Foot and Ankle Injuries Common in Winter
In the winter, slip-and-fall injuries increase some hospitals’ emergency room traffic by 500 percent. And, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, stress fractures in the foot are one of the most common injuries in the winter. Ankle injuries from falling are also common in the winter.
Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the foot bones that may, at first, not cause much discomfort. But they can end up being quite painful and interfere with one’s ability to walk comfortably. This injury is often seen in high-impact sports, but the sudden acceleration of slipping on ice can also exert enough force on the foot to break bones.
Ankle injuries associated with slipping and falling include strains, sprains, and fractures. Sometimes, people may think they’ve simply “twisted” their ankle, because they’re able to walk after a fall. But that doesn’t mean the ankle isn’t broken.
When you suffer a foot or ankle injury from falling on the ice, see a doctor as soon as possible. If you continue to put weight on a broken bone, you could make the injury worse.
Treatment for Stress Fractures
To confirm the presence of a stress fracture, a doctor may order an X-ray, but the X-ray may not detect the fracture. A magnetic resonance imaging is a more reliable method for detecting a stress fracture.
Treatment usually consists of rest and the use of a walking boot to reduce pressure on the foot as the bones heal. Rarely, surgery may be necessary. In people with poor bone density, or elderly people, stress fractures may take a long time to heal. And once you’ve suffered from a stress fracture in the foot, you’re at greater risk of suffering the same injury in the future.
Treatment for Ankle Injuries
A sprain is an injury to muscles or tendons, and a strain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments. A bad ankle sprain or strain can hurt just as much as a broken bone. And sometimes, the injuries occur at the same time, but the swelling associated with a bad sprain or strain may mask the signs of a fracture.
Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment options may be as simple as icing the ankle, taking anti-inflammatory medication, wrapping the ankle in a tight bandage, and avoiding weight-bearing activities. A severe strain or sprain can cause significant damage to ligaments, tendons, or muscles that can be repaired only through surgery. A mild ankle fracture may heal on its own, but if the bone chips or breaks completely, surgery will likely be necessary.
Many people recover well from ankle and foot injuries caused by a fall. But those injuries may also cause problems later in life – arthritis, pain from scar tissue, or decreased mobility, for example. Treatment and recovery can also be a financial burden; even with health insurance, your out-of-pocket expenses for diagnostic tests, surgery, and physical therapy can be difficult to manage.
Homeowners and business owners should remove ice and snow from the areas under their care. Once snow has stopped falling, a Philadelphia city ordinance requires the “owner, agent and tenants of any building or premises” to clear a 36-inch wide path on sidewalks, within six hours. Of course, not all people heed that law. And when they don’t, other people may be at higher risk of slipping and falling.
If you have any questions about this topic or believe that someone else is responsible for your slip-and-fall injury, the attorneys at Wapner Newman can help.