A sprain basically is a tear in a ligament as a result of sudden over-stretching of the ligament. It usually is caused by an abnormal movement of the foot and ankle, such as a turning of the ankle or stepping into a hole in the street. This kind of motion puts tremendous stretching on the ligaments, sometimes to the tearing point.
A sprained ankle is not to be taken lightly. Some people, after the initial severe pain or swelling disappears, feel they can resume normal activity. But when the ankle ligaments are over-stretched, unless they are held in a firm position, they may heal in this stretched position. This causes a weaker or looser ankle joint, making it easier to twist or sprain it again. Constant spraining and tearing of these ligaments, with improper healing, will result in an unstable ankle joint.
If you’ve sprained your ankle, it may not be enough simply to wear an Ace bandage or ankle bandage for a week to 10 days. More care is often needed.
In mild cases, immediately after the sprain, apply ice and stay off the foot. Wear a firm Ace bandage and a stable, well-made, low-heeled shoe. If there is more than slight discomfort, the sprain should be treated professionally to prevent excessive pain, swelling or perhaps a troublesome ankle for years to come.
Sprains and fractures initially will cause pain and swelling and be painful throughout the area. Sometimes black and blue discoloration can be seen over the injured area. This is usually from the tearing or rupture of small blood vessels associated with the injury.
A popular misconception is that if the foot bone or ankle bone is broken, you cannot move the part or walk on it. This is not always true, and leads many patients to delay treatment, which can result in chronic foot pain and deformity.
If you think you may have sustained a fracture, do not attempt home care. It is best to seek professional help from your podiatrist. Until you can see the foot specialist, stay off your foot, keep it elevated as much as possible, and apply ice and mild compression to the injured area. X-rays will help determine the nature of the injury and necessary treatment.
Treatment may include rest, ice packs, compression, physical therapy, medication, and immobilizing bandages. When possible, the podiatrist will use immobilizing bandages to allow the patient to assume a relatively normal activity. But in severe injuries, it may be necessary either to repair damaged tissues or apply a cast to ensure proper healing.
A neglected fractured toe can lead to a life-long problem. This "just a broken toe," if not cared for professionally, often will heal ”crooked”, or with a little bony projection that can cause endless misery with corns, and difficulty in shoe fitting.