FOOT AND ANKLE INJURY
to a bone, muscle, joint or ligament of the ankle and foot
Types of Injuries
Fractures (broken bones)
- Dislocations (bone out of joint)
- Sprains - Stretches and
tears of ligaments
- Strains - Stretches and
tears of muscles (pulled muscle)
- Contusion (bruise) - A direct blow or crushing injury
- Achilles Tendon Rupture - Pain in the Achilles tendon (area
above heel and behind ankle), with weakness or inability to extend the foot
(e.g. can't stand on tiptoes).
See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one) If
WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR FOR FOOT AND ANKLE INJURY
Call 911 Now (you may
need an ambulance) If:
- Major bleeding
(actively bleeding or spurting) that can't be stopped. FIRST AID: Apply direct
pressure to the entire wound with a clean cloth.
- Limb has been partially or completely amputated
- Injury looks like a dislocated joint (crooked or deformed)
- Bone sticking through skin
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If:
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9am
and 4pm) If:
- You think
you need to be seen
- There is a large swelling or bruise (wider than 2 inches) at
the site of the injury
- You are limping
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours
- You have other questions or concerns
- Injury interferes with work or school
- Injury and pain have not
improved after 3 days
- Injury is still painful and swollen after 2 weeks
Self Care at Home If:
- Minor bruise
- Minor strained (pulled) muscle or sprained (stretched) ligament
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR MINOR BRUISE, SPRAIN OR STRAIN
- Treatment of Minor
Bruise (e.g. direct blow to ankle or foot):
- Apply a cold pack or an ice bag (wrapped in a
towel) for 20 minutes each hour for 4 consecutive hours. (20 minutes of
cooling followed by 40 minutes of rest for 4 hours in a row).
- 48 hours after the injury, use local heat for 10 minutes 3 times
each day to help reabsorb the blood.
- Rest the injured part as much as possible for 48 hours.
Treatment of Minor Sprains and Strains of Foot and Ankle:
- FIRST AID - Wrap with a snug elastic bandage. Apply an ice pack
(crushed ice in a plastic bag covered with a towel) to reduce bleeding,
swelling, and pain.
- Treat with R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation)
for the first 24 to 48 hours.
REST the injured leg for 24 hours. You may return to normal
activity after 24 hours of rest if the activity does not cause pain.
- Continue to apply crushed ICE packs for 10-20 minutes
every hour for the first 4 hours. Then apply ice for 10-20 minutes 4 times a
day for the first two days.
- Apply COMPRESSION by wrapping the injured part with a
snug, elastic bandage for 48 hours. If you experience numbness, tingling, or
increased pain in the injured part, the bandage may be too tight. Loosen the
- Keep injured ankle or foot ELEVATED and at rest for 24
hours. Keep your foot up on a pillow and stay off your feet as much as possible.
Pain Medication: For pain relief, take acetaminophen every 4-6 hours
(e.g. Tylenol; adult dosage 650 mg) OR ibuprofen every 6-8 hours (e.g. Advil,
Motrin; adult dosage 400 mg).
- Do not take ibuprofen if you have stomach problems, kidney disease,
are pregnant, or have been told by your doctor to avoid this type of anti-inflammatory
drug. Do not take ibuprofen for more than 7 days without consulting your doctor.
- Do not take acetaminophen if you have liver disease.
- Read the package instructions thoroughly on all medications
that you take.
Expected Course: Pain and swelling usually begin to improve 2 or 3
days after an injury. Swelling is usually gone in 7 days. Pain may take 2 weeks
to completely resolve.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Pain becomes severe
- Pain does not improve after 3 days
- Pain or swelling lasts more than 2 weeks
- You become worse or develop any of the "Call Your Doctor"
Disclaimer: This information
is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is
provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility
for how you choose to use this information.
Adult HouseCalls Online. Copyright © 2000-2004
David Thompson, M.D. FACEP
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