Common foot and ankle injuries and when to see a doctor
We generally use our feet and ankles anytime we are moving, especially during sports or exercise activity. So, it’s no wonder they are also prone to injury. Whether it’s due to overuse from repetitive motion, an acute injury such as a fall or a sports-related accident, injuries to the feet and ankles are common.
What are the most common causes of foot and ankle injuries?
- Overuse: Repetitive motion from a job or exercise activity
- Acute: A sudden injury from a trip and fall
- Sports: Injuries that occur from a fall or overuse and are related to a certain sport activity
When should I go to the doctor for a foot injury, ankle pain or a broken toe?
Even a seemingly minor foot or ankle injury can be painful and limit your daily activities. In some cases, pain will go away over time with at-home treatment, but other times it can be difficult to determine whether or not you should seek help from a doctor.
If you’re in significant pain or you’re unable to put any weight on your foot or ankle, you should visit an urgent care or emergency room right away.
Ignoring pain or trying to “tough it out” could make things worse. If pain or mobility issues are serious, the best thing you can do is seek treatment from a doctor to avoid making the injury worse and prolonging your treatment.
When should I be concerned about ankle pain or a foot injury?
It can be difficult to determine when to see a doctor for foot or ankle pain, especially if pain isn’t consistent such as with injuries like plantar fasciitis or heel pain. Additionally, ankle sprains can be just as painful as a broken ankle.
It’s not so much about the specific injury determining when you should seek treatment as it is about the amount of pain you are in and if you can put weight on it.
WATCH VIDEO: How to tell the difference between a sprained or broken ankle
Go to an urgent care or ER for foot or ankle pain if:
- You have severe pain and swelling
- You are unable to walk or put weight on your foot
- Have an open wound (Emergency room only)
- Have signs of infection such as redness, warmth or tenderness (Emergency room only)
Schedule an appointment with a foot or ankle doctor if:
- You have swelling that is persistent for two to five days even with at-home treatment
- Have persistent pain or occasional pain flare ups after activity for several weeks
- You are experiencing numbness or tingling in your foot
Visit an OrthoIndy Urgent Care
located throughout Indianapolis with weekend and evening hours or make an appointment with an OrthoIndy foot and ankle specialist
. For medical emergencies, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. OrthoIndy Trauma physicians are at St.Vincent Indianapolis Level I Trauma Center
When should I go to the doctor for a broken toe?
Unless you have an open wound or significant deformity, a broken toe isn’t a reason to make a trip to an emergency room or urgent care. However, if you think you have a broken toe, it’s best to have a doctor look at it, even though you can treat it yourself at home. A broken toe can lead to more serious problems like infection, arthritis or long-term foot pain.
In most cases, you will be sent home with directions for at-home treatment such as icing, buddy taping and over-the-counter pain medications. Most times, a broken toe will heal in four to six weeks.
READ ARTICLE: When should I go to the doctor for a foot injury, ankle pain or a broken toe?
What is a foot and ankle doctor called?
There are many kinds of medical professionals that treat and evaluate conditions of the foot and ankle. Medical professionals that treat foot and ankle injuries include podiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, primary care physicians and physical therapists.
At OrthoIndy, we have foot and ankle orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists that focus on treating your foot and ankle pain with the most cutting-edge technology and treatment options.
What is the difference between a podiatrist and an orthopedic surgeon?
Podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons treat many of the same conditions related to the foot and ankle, but their training and scope of practice is different. An orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon will typically have the following education:
- Four years at an accredited medical school
- Five years of generalized orthopedic surgical residency training
- Additional fellowship training focusing on treatment of the foot and ankle
An orthopedic surgeon is a medical doctor who has a firm understanding of the entire musculoskeletal system. Additional training specific to foot and ankle diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation help an orthopedic surgeon offer the best advice not only for the foot but also for the patient as a whole. At OrthoIndy, our foot and ankle specialists are fellowship trained in this specialty.
READ ARTICLE: What kind of doctor do you go to for foot and ankle pain?