Sprains and fractures of the foot and ankle are common injuries that can occur either while playing in sports or simply misstepping while walking.
These types of injuries are common in those with active lifestyles who are on their feet most of the day.
Sprains and fractures of the foot are especially common because of the amount of tissue and small bones that are present throughout the foot.
One small awkward twist or pressure to the foot can cause minor sprains or severe fractures. Sprains and fractures are different injuries, though, and differentiating between the two is important in order to develop the correct treatment plan.
Sprains vs. Fractures
The main difference between these two injuries is where the injury occurs.
Sprains occur when the tendon or ligament in the affected area is stretched or torn.
Fractures, on the other hand, are identified by direct breaks to the bone. A sprain usually has associated pain to the soft tissue and is tender to the touch. Most of the time, you can still put some pressure on the injury and walk on it.
Sprains are not as serious as fractures, and if left to rest and iced, can usually heal on their own. Sprains are more commonly identified by a “pop” sound at the time of injury.
Fractures are more severe, as they usually cause immobility and a more deep pain to the bone, fractures can also result in bone deformities that can be seen or palpated by a physician.
It is important to have a fracture treated by a doctor immediately. If left untreated, fractures can lead to much more serious permanent damage such as infection, permanent deformities, and loss of blood circulation.
Symptoms of a Sprain
- Hot to the touch
Symptoms of a Fracture
- Extreme swelling and bruising
- Deformity in shape
- Sharp pain with movement
- Inability to bear weight
- Loss of control to affected area
Initially, if no deformities are present, you will need X-rays performed in order to determine if the injury was simply a sprain or a more serious fracture.
If your physician identifies a sprain, the span of treatment will involve multiple steps and will most likely not include surgery.
You will be recommend a regimen of ice and rest for less serious cases, and if the damage is deeper than a splint may be placed.
This will require either a wheelchair or crutches to walk with to allow the injury time to heal. The RICE protocol is common for sprain injuries to the foot: rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the affected foot.
If it is found to be fracture, a splint will most likely be applied to immobilize the area and promote faster healing. In addition, your doctor may also run additional tests such as an MRI or CT scan in order to check for further arterial or tissue damage. For severe fractures that displace multiple bones in the foot and may be causing damage to surrounding tissues and arteries, surgical intervention may be necessary.
These surgeries simply entail the doctor entering the affected area and using hardware to repair the bones and place them in their proper positions. Hairline fractures are a less severe form of fracture that may not require surgery, while clean breaks to the bone may need surgery, based on your physician’s discretion.
If you have experienced a foot injury recently, contact us today to schedule an appointment and ensure that the injury does not become infected or heal improperly.