Health Care

Foot and Ankle Injuries: How Do You Prevent Them?

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Let us tackle one very common misconception: those individuals who play or are involved in extreme or intense sports are the only ones at risk for foot and ankle injury.
Definitely not true.

The truth is, most people are likely to have experienced foot and ankle injuries at one point in their lives or another.

While many injuries cannot be attributed to routine movements performed on a daily basis, many symptoms are credited to overuse and everyday wear and tear.

Possible Causes

In many cases, foot and ankle injuries can  occur as a result of:
·         Work-related chores
·         Recreational or sports activities
·         Projects and chores done at home
Understandably, dancers, soccer players, basketball players, and gymnasts are more prone to foot and ankle injuries compared to their counterparts who are not involved in any challenging or competitive sports.
The elderly on the other hand become susceptible to foot and ankle injuries because of possible loss of both bone strength and muscle mass (osteopenia).
Balance and vision problems may also increase the risks of injuries.
In children, injuries of the same nature can often occur during sports, play, and falls.
If the bone injury is near a joint, meticulous evaluation is recommended to help ensure the growth plate (physis) is not compromised in any way.

It is fortunate to note that most cases of foot and ankle injuries respond favorably to home treatments.
However, injuries that are caused by bending, falling, jamming, or twisting will require medical attention.
Medical attention is also especially necessary when swelling and bruising manifests.

Treatment Interventions

Luckily, when it comes to foot and ankle injuries, there are several treatment options to pick from.
Special shoes (with orthotic devices), medications, first aid measures (cast, splint, and brace), and physical therapy are just some of the available treatment options.

However, the treatment approach chosen will often depend on the following key factors:
·         Severity, location, and type of injury
·         When the injury happened
·         Overall health of the patient
·         Age of the patient
·         The activities the patient is involved in (i.e. hobbies, sports, work, etc.)

If the foot or ankle injury is minor in nature, the following conventional treatment approaches would suffice:
·         Gently rub or massage the area to encourage blood flow and minimize pain. However, when severe pain is felt, massaging the injured area is discouraged.

·         Perform gentle exercises to help restore flexibility. Some experts also recommend alternating between hot and cold treatments.

·         To ensure faster healing, MSA (movement, strength, and alternate) exercises are recommended.
Movement (restoration of full motion range is a key priority after an injury)
Strength (after movement has been restored effectively, strengthening the injured area is often the next goal.
Alternate activities (while healing, integrating exercises in the day-to-day activities is deemed ideal.

Preventive Measures

To ensure foot and ankle injuries are successfully avoided, the following beneficial tips should be kept  in mind:

·         Change the running shoes at least every 3 months – experts recommend buying a new pair of shoes for running every 500 miles of wear or every 3 months.

·         Always wear proper shoes – footwear should not only be comfortable but should also provide the right support.

·         Wear supportive brace when needed – wrapping the ankle or foot during activities or exercises can help significantly reduce injury risks.

·         Train properly – make sure you perform proper foot, leg, and ankle stretches before and after exercise sessions. Excessive sprinting should also be avoided.

·         Lose the excess weight – those extra pounds is not only unhealthy but can also put strain and stress on the ankle.

·         Be mindful of foot and ankle overuse – excessive movements done repeatedly might result to injury to the tendons and the bursa.

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