Sports Medicine: Common Myths About Foot Injuries

There are a lot of health myths that are repeated so often, many people assume they’re true. By learning to separate the truth from the common misconceptions, you’ll be prepared to avoid some serious problems.

Here are some of the most frequently believed myths about foot and ankle injuries. Do you know as much as you thought?

Myth #1: Ankle sprains are minor injuries and don’t usually cause long-term problems.

If you suffer from repeated ankle sprains, there may be a more serious issue present. Frequent sprains can mean chronic ankle stability, and without proper care, you may develop long-term problems.

Usually, an ankle sprain is a short-term condition with a routine, predictable path to recovery—so it’s easy to think of these injuries as harmless. But the fact is, serious or recurring sprains can lead to ankle arthritis or other long-term, disabling conditions.

You can reduce your risk of long-term issues due to ankle sprains with professional bracing and rehabilitation after an injury, to ensure a fast and proper recovery.

Myth #2: If you can still move it, then it must not be broken.

There are 26 bones in the human foot—a higher concentration than in any other part of the body. Quite a few of them can suffer a fracture or break and leave you still able to move your foot, though it will definitely hurt.

Some common fractures that you can still walk with include small “chip” fractures of foot or ankle bones, breaks in the thinner of your two leg bones, and a fractured toe—which is another frequently neglected injury.

Myth #3: When you hurt your foot or ankle, you should soak it in hot water.

There’s nothing more soothing than a nice, warm bath, so it’s a good idea to soak your foot pain away, right? In reality, heat is probably the worst thing you can apply to an injured foot or ankle.

Instead of reducing swelling and pain, hot water makes the situation worse by opening the blood vessels—which rushes blood to the injured area faster, increases swelling, and puts more pressure on the nerves. In fact, that pressure is probably what’s causing the pain in the first place.

To relieve pain, apply cold, not heat, to your feet. An ice bag wrapped in a towel will shrink your blood vessels, which helps prevent swelling (and the pain that comes with it). Ice cold also has a numbing effect against the pain.

 Myth #4: If you sprain your ankle, it’s best to wrap it in an Ace bandage.

While a compression bandage can decrease the pain of a twisted ankle, you’re only treating a symptom—while the problem goes unaddressed. Sprained ankles usually mean that your ligaments are seriously overstretched, or even torn. Left untreated, they won’t heal properly, and you could end up with permanent damage.

For a bad ankle sprain, you should seek immediate care from a  board-certified podiatrist. You’ll probably need an x-ray to determine if there is a fracture and assess the extent of the damage. The ankle may need to be completely immobilized with professional bracing or casting, crutches to reduce the weight on the ankle during initial healing, professional guidance after the acute injury to assist rapid progress and physical therapy to ensure a full recovery.

In some serious cases, you may even need surgery on the ligaments or tendons to avoid permanent soft tissue and joint damage.

Myth #5: You don’t need immediate care for a broken toe.

Another popular variation on this myth is that broken toes heal on their own, and there’s nothing a doctor can do for you. This is patently untrue. Any toe fracture should have prompt attention, because even if it turns out to be an undisplaced fracture—a simple crack or break where the bones are still aligned—a qualified podiatrist can help you get fast relief from the pain, and make sure the break doesn’t worsen.

With displaced or angular breaks, where the ends of the broken bone no longer align, you need medical attention to set the toe, so it heals the right way. In many untreated angular toe breaks, people develop post-fracture deformity: a toe that is painfully crooked or deformed, usually with an equally painful corn.

It’s vital to monitor the health of your feet and ankles, and take any pain or trauma to the area seriously. If you’re experiencing ongoing foot, heel or ankle pain and believe it will go away on its own, you could be setting yourself up for serious problems down the road. It’s always best to consult your local expert. Dr. Jeffrey J. Niccoli and Alameda Family Podiatry Group offer advanced diagnostic tools and prompt, friendly care for a wide range of foot and ankle problems.  Click here or Call us now at 510-521-3410  ~ Dr. Jeffrey J Niccoli  Board-Certified, Alameda Family Podiatry Group. Serving  Bay Area patients from San Francisco, Oakland, Fremont, and Alameda

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