TOMS RIVER, NJ, DECEMBER 15, 2008 – With the winter season right around the corner, serious injuries from ice-related falls inevitably will occur. Falls on icy surfaces are a major cause of ankle sprains and fractures, and it’s critical to seek prompt treatment to prevent further damage that can prolong recovery.
Gerald Mauriello, Jr., DPM, a foot and ankle surgeon, says the ankle joint is vulnerable to serious injury from hard falls on ice. This is especially a concern to elderly patients.
“Ice accelerates the fall and often causes more severe trauma because the foot can go in any direction after slipping," he says.
Mauriello adds that in cases of less severe fractures and sprains, it’s possible to walk and mistakenly believe the injury doesn’t require medical treatment. This can lead to increased pain and disability.
“Never assume the ability to walk means your ankle isn’t broken or badly sprained," he says. "Putting weight on the injured joint can worsen the problem and lead to chronic instability, joint pain and arthritis."
Some people may fracture and sprain an ankle at the same time, and a bad sprain can mask the fracture.
“It’s best to have an injured ankle evaluated as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment,” says Dr. Mauriello. “If you can’t see a foot and ankle surgeon or visit the emergency room right away, follow the RICE technique – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation – until medical care is available.”
According to Dr. Mauriello, even though symptoms of ankle sprains and fractures are similar, fractures are associated with:
- Pain at the site of the fracture that can extend from the foot to the knee
- Significant swelling
- Blisters over the fracture site
- Bruising soon after the injury
- Bone protruding through the skin—a compound fracture, which requires immediate attention.
Most ankle fractures and some sprains are treated by immobilizing the joint in a cast or splint to foster union and healing. However, surgery may be needed to repair fractures with significant malalignment to unite bone fragments and realign them properly.
Dr. Mauriello said newly designed surgical plates and screws allow repair of these injuries with less surgical trauma, utilizing minimally invasive techniques. This leads to a decrease in complications and quicker recovery and return to activity.
“With newer bone-fixation methods, there are smaller incisions to minimize tissue damage and bleeding and accelerate the healing process,” he says.
“If you fall on an icy spot and hurt your ankle, the best advice is to seek medical attention immediately," he says. "This aids in early diagnosis and proper treatment of the ankle injury and reduces the risk of further damage.”
For more information or for referral to Dr. Mauriello or another food and ankle specialist, call 1-888-724-7123.
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