Fractures and dislocations differ from stress fractures. Stress fractures usually do not result from one serious injury, but are due to repeated lesser traumas. True fractures and dislocations, on the other hand, are usually the result of one severe injury.
True fractures and dislocations of the foot are serious problems, and if they are not treated properly, they can result in life long pain and disability. They must be treated immediately by a doctor, especially if you are a diabetic, have poor circulation, have decreased sensation in your feet (neuropathy), taking blood thinners, or have other serious medical problems. Sometimes it will be difficult to decide whether you have a fracture or not; at these times it is best to see a doctor and let him/her decide. Here are some tips to follow after a severe foot injury:
- Fractures are disruptions or breaks in a bone, and can include the following types:
- Hairline breaks, where there is no separation of bone — just a crack is present.
- Complete break with separation of bone.
- Complete break with the bone sticking out of the skin. This is a true medical emergency; go immediately to the emergency room or call 911.
- Dislocations are disruptions in one or more joints. A joint is a location where two bones come together and are bound by tissue called a joint capsule. Certain injuries rip this capsule and allow the bones to separate and move. When this occurs, the joint is said to be dislocated.
- Immediate treatment includes seeing a doctor immediately! If you think you have sustained a fracture or dislocation, immediately do the following:
- If possible, remove your shoe and inspect the area for an open wound. If there is a wound present and it is bleeding, apply mild pressure with a clean bandage.
- Immobilize the foot with an elastic bandage so that there is no movement at the injured site. Do not apply too much pressure or you will cut off the circulation to the foot.
- Do not walk on the foot. Elevate it.
- Apply ice above the ankle, not directly to the injured site.
- Do not drive! Call someone to take you to the doctor or emergency room immediately. If you cannot find someone to take you, call 911.
- Long term treatment may involve immobilization of the foot and leg.
- Keeping the cast or walker dry can be a challenge. In our practice, we recommend the following waterproof cast bags to our patients. We have found these products to be effective, durable, and easy to apply and adjust for a custom fit.
- Keeping your foot warm in cold weather is easy when you use a BRR PAW.