Dr. Vincent Giacalone
Podiatric Medicine & Surgery
466 Hook Rd., Suite 24D, Emerson, NJ 07630
Sprains and Strains of the Feet
What is a Foot or Ankle Sprain or Fracture?
The feet and ankles work together to provide support and mobility to the body. A foot or ankle sprain is a soft tissue injury. Most often, a sprain occurs when an injury pulls, stretches, or tears the ligaments that connect bone to bone. A fracture is actually a break in the bone.
Injuries are the most common causes of foot and ankle sprains and fractures. Many fractures and sprains occur during sports. Football players are particularly vulnerable to foot and ankle sprains and fractures. Basketball players are prone to ankle sprains, and runners may develop stress fractures of the ankle or foot. Gymnasts and dancers may also develop stress fractures. Tripping or stumbling on uneven ground is another common cause of foot and ankle sprains and fractures.
Pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking on the affected foot or ankle are the most common symptoms of a sprained or fractured foot or ankle.
If you’ve hurt your foot or ankle, it’s best to err on the side of caution. The acronym RICE can help you remember what to do:
Rest—Rest the affected area. Stay off the injured foot or ankle until it can be fully evaluated. Walking, running, or playing sports on an injured foot or ankle may make the injury worse.
Ice—Apply ice to the affected area as soon as possible, and reapply it for 15–20 minutes every three or four hours for the first 48 hours after injury. Ice can decrease inflammation.
Compression—Wrap an elastic bandage (such as an Ace® wrap) around the affected foot or ankle. The wrapping should be snug, but not so tight as to cut off circulation.
Elevation—Elevate the affected extremity on a couple of pillows; ideally, your foot or ankle should be higher than your heart. Keeping your foot or ankle elevated also decreases swelling.
When to Visit Dr. Giacalone
Dr. Giacalone specializes in the care and treatment of the lower extremities. He can determine the extent of the injury and develop a plan of care to get you back in the game (or back to your everyday life) as soon as possible. Increased pain, swelling, bruising, redness, or difficulty walking after an injury are definite signs that it’s time to see Dr. Giacalone.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Dr. Giacalone will carefully examine your feet and ankles and take a complete medical history. He will also order tests, including an X-ray, ultrasound, or MRI, to determine the extent of your injury. If you have a fracture that’s clearly visible on X-ray, you may not need additional testing. Ultrasounds and MRIs are useful for finding soft issue injuries (including torn ligaments) and stress fractures.
Treatment will depend on your injury. If you have a broken bone, Dr. Giacalone may attempt to “reduce” the fracture, which means lining up the ends of the bones so they can heal properly. (You’ll be given a local anesthetic to numb the area first.) If the fracture is “unstable,” meaning that the ends of the bone do not stay in place after a reduction, surgery may be needed. Dr. Giacalone can use metal plates and screws to fix broken bones. Stress fractures are treated with rest and immobilization. You will be instructed to stay off the affected area until healing is complete. Crutches and/or a special “boot” or cast may be used to immobilize the area. Sprains are also treated with a period of immobilization. Depending on the extent of your sprain, you may be able to resume activity fairly quickly, or you may need to wear a soft cast or special “boot” and use crutches for a period of weeks. Professional athletes may undergo surgery to repair torn ligaments. Oral anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, can be used to decrease pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Warming up prior to physical activity can help to prevent ankle sprains and fractures. So can wearing proper shoes. If you’re an athlete, talk to Dr. Giacalone to determine which shoes are best for your sport.
Dr. Giacalone has been trained specifically and extensively in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of foot disorders. Dr. Giacalone has been board certified by The American Board of Podiatric Orthopedics and The American Board of Podiatric Surgery since 1993 and 1995 respectively and is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Dr. Giacalone performs surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Hackensack University Medical Center @ Pascack Valley in Westwood and Surgicare Surgical Center in Oradell.