Ankle joint prone to severe injuries when falling on ice
Prompt diagnosis and treatment can prevent further trauma
By Tara Parks, DPM and Mark Birmingham, DPM
Orthopedics Department at Boulder Medical Center
Colder temperatures have taken hold of Colorado, increasing the risk of ankle injuries from ice-related falls. Slipping and falling in icy conditions are a major cause of ankle sprains and fractures. Unfortunately, the ankle joint is especially vulnerable to serious injury when falls occur on icy surfaces because the foot can go in any direction after slipping.
It’s critical to seek prompt treatment if you slip on ice and hurt your ankle — even when injury to your ankle may seem minor — to prevent further damage that can prolong your recovery. In cases of less severe sprains and fractures, it’s possible to walk and mistakenly believe the injury doesn’t require medical attention. Never assume that the ability to walk means your ankle is not badly sprained or broken. Putting weight on the injured joint can worsen the problem and lead to chronic instability, joint pain, and arthritis.
If you can’t see a foot and ankle specialist or visit an urgent care center or emergency room right away, rest your ankle (using crutches if necessary) and follow the “RICE” technique — Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation — until medical care is available.
Most ankle fractures and some sprains are treated by immobilizing the joint in a cast or splint to foster healing. Surgery may be needed to repair fractures with significant misalignment so that bone fragments can be united and realigned properly. Newly designed surgical plates and screws allow repair of these injuries with smaller incisions that minimize tissue damage and accelerate the healing process.
Dr. Parks diagnoses and treats patients with any foot and ankle pathology or condition including: common foot disorders; reconstructive foot and ankle surgery; sports medicine, biomechanics, orthotics and bracing; diabetic limb salvage and more.
Dr. Birmingham’s clinical and surgical expertise includes the treatment of foot and ankle sports injuries, complex deformities, chronic ankle instability, foot and ankle fractures, arthritis as well as general foot and ankle care.