Foot and ankle emergencies happen every day. Broken bones, dislocations, sprains, contusions, infections, and other serious injuries can occur at any time. Early attention is vitally important. Whenever you sustain a foot or ankle injury, you should seek immediate treatment from a foot and ankle physician.
Foot or ankle injuries most commonly occur during:
Each foot has 33 joints, eight arches, 26 bones, more than a hundred muscles, ligaments, and tendons that all work together to distribute body weight and allow movement. Unfortunately, many people pay no attention to their feet – until they start to hurt. Foot disorders must be diagnosed and treated early, before they become very painful and incapacitating. In some cases, some painful foot abnormalities are already warning signs of even more serious ailments such as diabetes, circulatory disorders, and nerve problems.
Some common foot problems are:
Your ankle bone and the ends of your two lower leg bones make up the ankle joint. Your ligaments, which connect bones of the ankle to one another, stabilize and support it. Your muscles and tendons move it. The most common ankle problems are sprains and fractures. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments. It may take a few weeks to many months to heal completely. A fracture is a break in a bone. You can also injure other parts of the ankle such as tendons, which join muscles to bone, and cartilage, which cushions your joints. Ankle sprains and fractures are common sports injuries. These foot problems are most often treated by foot and ankle specialists.
As there is no uniform cause for ankle pain, the therapy for ankle pain needs to be individualized according to the cause. Common treatment for ankle injuries and conditions includes:
Ankle fractures: A cast will be used in the case of an undisplaced fracture of only one bone for 3 to 4 weeks. In the case of more complicated fractures or fracture dislocations it is advisable to consult an orthopedic surgeon who will perform a surgery to fix the broken bone.
Ankle strain or sprain: Treatment includes a few days or 1 or 2 weeks of taping to support the ankle followed by strengthening exercises with or without the help of a physiotherapist for 2 or 3 weeks is all that is required. In a more serious case of ankle strain (sprain) a walking cast might be put on for 2 or 3 weeks to allow the torn ligaments to heal prior to remobilization.
Complex Regional Pain Syndromes (CRPS): Sometimes a foot and ankle specialist has to be consulted on a short-term basis and a sympathetic nerve block or an epidural injection may have to be done in an attempt to reverse the pain process.
Circulatory Reasons for Ankle Pain: In the case of Buerger's disease where the arteries to the legs contain narrow passages, the only rational approach is to identify the arterial lesions by angiograms (X-rays of the arteries after infection of dye into the arteries) and perform bypass surgeries. Nerve Entrapment: A foot and ankle physician or a neurosurgeon can then "decompress" the compressed nerve in a daycare type surgery. If this is done early enough there will not be any residual weakness in the nerve or the associated muscles and all of the sensitivity loss usually returns to normal.
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