It’s official – winter is here. And, with it comes snow and ice. While fun for skating, sledding, and snowman building, it’s also prime conditions for slips and falls – often resulting in foot and ankle injuries. In fact, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons states that falls on icy surfaces are a major cause of ankle sprains and fractures, and often times severe. The severity tends to go up in the winter because ice accelerates your fall AND makes it possible for your foot to go in virtually any direction after slipping. The most common injuries are due to slips on sidewalks, driveways, porches, and stairs.
Some individuals who sustain a fall (be it on ice or not) mistakenly believe that, if they can walk on the affected foot, then there must not be any serious injury. However, this is NOT the case – never assume that just because you can bear weight on the foot that you should do so. Putting undue weight on a break or sprain is a great way to set yourself up for chronic joint instability, arthritis, and joint pain later in life. It’s also important to note that breaks and sprains can occur at the same time, which means that a bad sprain can potentially mask a break. This is why it’s important to have your injury evaluated as soon as possible – that means giving us a call ASAP! For “after hours” injuries, a trip to the emergency department would be in order.
Now, if you do happen to fall and injure your foot and/or ankle, the first thing you’ll want to do is assess the damage. Swelling and bruising are definite indicators of injury to the area. However, the only way to know for sure if a break has occurred is via x-ray, which is why it’s important to have your injury evaluated as soon as possible. If you’re not able to see a doctor right away, make sure to follow the RICE treatment protocol, which stands for: Rest (get off your feet!), Ice (apply to injured area for 20 minutes ever hour), Compression (such as an ACE bandage to help reduce swelling), and Elevation (keep your foot above your heart – this allows gravity to aid in swelling reduction).
To stay as safe as possible on the ice, always wear appropriate footwear for the weather – this means that the shoes should have good traction and provide appropriate ankle support. Also, be on the lookout for “black ice”, especially when going down steps, and take extra care when walking through icy parking lots and walkways.
If you do happen to injury your foot and/or ankle (no matter how you do it!), please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Dr. Krejci is our resident foot and ankle specialist here at Prairie Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery, PC, and she would be more than happy to evaluate and treat your injury and help get you back on your feet again!