“Be sure to put your feet in the right place,
then stand firm.”Abraham Lincoln
Watch your step
Unlike going on stage, breaking a leg does not bring you good luck.
Winter brings frost, snow and black ice. Even when you do watch your step, falls still happen. NHS GP’s and Hospitals are under increasing pressure and so you may find that your injury or operation to fix your fracture is triaged as a lower priority.
If you do need to venture out in bad weather, (even if it is just to put out the bins!), make sure that you wear appropriate footwear. Boots, particularly those that lace up around the ankle, give support to you feet and ankles. Choose ones that also have a good grip on the sole to help to prevent injury.
The most common foot and ankle injuries in cold weather
- 1. Ankle Sprain
- 2. Torn Ligaments
- 3. Ankle Fracture
- 4. Metatarsal Fracture
- 5. Lis Franc Injury
This is caused by twisting or rolling your ankle. In wintery weather it is most often due to slipping on snow or black ice.
An ankle sprain is when the ligaments and tendons that help to stabilise the ankle joint are intact, but stretched. Most ankle sprains settle down quickly, with simple Rest, Ice and Elevation.
If you are unable to walk on your ankle you may have done more significant damage.
If after a day or two you are still struggling, particularly if your ankle feels as if it will not support you, or if you have lost confidence in your ankle, it is worth seeking advice to see if you need more targeted treatment.
Torn ligaments are a more significant injury. Often bruising and swelling occur within 24 hours. Pain typically causes you to limp or hop. The outside of the ankle has the ‘lateral ligament complex’. This is a series of ligaments which provide stability whey you twist your ankle. The most commonly injured ligament of this complex, the ATFL, usually heals well. However, in some people, it can lead to chronic instability and subsequent risk of arthritis. A ‘high ankle sprain’ is when the ATIFL or syndesmosis ligament is injured. This injury is frequently missed.
Ankle Fracture – Broken Ankle
A broken ankle is one of the most common fractures seen in Accident and Emergency Departments.
Not all fractures are the same. Signs that you may have sustained a fracture are:-
unable to stand on your foot and ankle
significant pain, often on the outside of the ankle
hearing a ‘crack’, ‘snap’ or feeling a ‘crunch’
If this is the case then you should seek urgent medical attention.
Depending on the fracture type and pattern your treatment from Accident and Emergency may include:-
discharge with and a leaflet on advice
referral to a ‘Virtual Fracture Clinic’
referral to an Orthopaedic Fracture Clinic
Being sent home from A&E and then contacted to come in for an operation in a few days
Admission to hospital for an urgent operation
Foot Fracture – Broken Foot
The foot has a number of small bones that can be broken. Many of these injuries can be managed without the need for an operation.
Often simple rest, elevation and ice, will take down the swelling. You may have to wear a larger shoe for a short period, but your symptoms should improve relatively quickly.
If you are not able to walk on your foot, you need to seek medical attention.
Lis Franc Injury
This is a rare, significant and often missed injury. If you have significant pain and swelling in the middle of your instep, you may have this injury. Bruising in the middle of the sole of the foot is a tell-tale sign. You should see an expert for advice.
If you think you may have sustained any of these injuries it is important to get urgent medical advice.
If you are unsure if you need to go to your GP or A&E, or if you have been and are not sure of the advice that you have been given I provide virtual video consultations.