Injuries of the Foot and Ankle

There are a total of 28 bones in the feet. The feet are normally the first thing to touch the ground when walking, running, or moving in general. For these reasons the feet are one of the more common areas for injuries. The severity of the injuries can vary greatly from a small sprain in the little toe to a large fracture of the ankle in which the bones have moved and need to be realigned.

An ankle sprain is one of the most common injuries of the foot and ankle. Sprains can range both in location and severity. The definition of ankle sprain is a tearing or stretching of the ligaments that hold the ankle together. Whether the ligaments are stretched or completely torn as well as how many ligaments are involved defines the severity of the sprain.

The most common ankle sprain is of the outside of the ankle. There are three main ligaments on the outside of the ankle. A sprain of this part of the ankle can involve all three ligaments or just one. The most common cause of this sprain is stepping on uneven ground or someone else’s foot and rolling the ankle out. This sprain is usually accompanied by immediate pain and sometimes an audible popping sound. Depending on the severity of the sprain and which ligaments were torn, bruising will occur and the ankle will swell. The pattern of bruising is often a way of determining which ligaments or ligament was torn. The more severe sprains can also be accompanied by fractures, and tendon tears. There can also be sprains of additional joints in the rear foot.

The most common fracture of the entire body is a fracture of the fifth toe (little toe). This often happens when a person is walking and runs the foot into a piece of furniture or other household object. This fracture usually only requires rest, and a shoe that does not bend at the toes, to heal properly. The many other types of fractures that can affect the feet are unique in the problems that they pose for the patient and doctor.

The major decision when evaluating a fracture is whether the fracture requires surgery or can be treated by casting. Often this decision is made depending on the severity of the fracture, whether the bones have moved away from each other, and whether not fixing the fracture will lead to problems down the road.

Another injury of the foot or ankle, often seen in basketball, is injury to the Achilles tendon. This injury often occurs suddenly and is accompanied by a popping sound. Often this happens in athletes who do not play the sport often, but sporadically. These athletes are often called “weekend warriors.” These injuries can be avoided by warming up properly and stretching the Achilles tendon before and after playing.

This is a small number of the different injuries thickened affect the foot and ankle. Often times it’s hard to tell the difference between a severe injury and one that doesn’t need medical treatment. For this reason we recommend you have an evaluation anytime you injure your foot or ankle.