Top of the pageCheck Your Symptoms

Topic Overview

Bones of the foot

At one
time or another, everyone has had a minor toe, foot, or ankle injury that
caused pain or swelling. Most of the time our body movements do not cause
problems, but it’s not surprising that symptoms develop from everyday wear and
tear, overuse, or an injury.

Toe, foot, or ankle injuries most
commonly occur during:

  • Sports or recreational
    activities.
  • Work-related tasks.
  • Work or projects around
    the home.

In children, most toe, foot, or ankle injuries occur during
sports, play, or falls. The risk for injury is higher in sports
with jumping, such as basketball, or sports with quick direction change, such
as soccer or football. Any bone injury near a joint may injure the
growth plate (physis) in a child and needs to be
evaluated.

Certain athletes, such as dancers, gymnasts, or soccer
or basketball players, have an increased risk of toe, foot, or ankle
injuries.

Older adults are at higher risk for injuries and
fractures because they lose muscle mass and bone strength (osteopenia) as they age. They also have more problems
with vision and balance, which increases their risk of
injury.

Most minor injuries will heal on their own, and home
treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve your symptoms and promote
healing.

Sudden (acute) injury

An acute injury may occur from
a direct blow, a penetrating injury, or a fall, or from twisting, jerking,
jamming, or bending a limb abnormally. Your pain may be sudden and severe.
Bruising and swelling may develop soon after your injury. Acute injuries
include:

  • Bruises (contusions). After an ankle injury,
    bruising may extend to your toes from the effects of gravity.
  • Puncture wounds. Sharp objects, such as nails, tacks, ice picks, knives, teeth, and needles, can all cause puncture wounds. Puncture wounds increase your risk of infection because they are hard to clean and they provide a warm, moist place for bacteria to grow. The bacteria Pseudomonas is a common cause of infections when a puncture wound occurs through the sole of an athletic shoe.
  • Injuries to
    ligaments that support your joints.
  • Injuries to
    tendons, such as ruptured tendons in your heel (Achilles tendon). Children ages 8 to 14 may have a condition known as Sever’s disease, which causes injury to the
    growing bone where the Achilles tendon is attached. This usually occurs during
    activity and is relieved with home treatment.
  • Injuries to your joints (sprains). If a
    sprain does not appear to be healing, a condition known as
    osteochondritis dissecans may be present, causing
    persistent symptoms.
  • Pulled muscles (strains).
    Muscles of the foot and ankle can be strained and can also
    rupture.
  • Broken bones (fractures),
    such as a
    broken toe.
  • A bone moving out of place
    (dislocation).
  • A crushing injury, which
    can lead to
    compartment syndrome.

Overuse injuries

Overuse injuries occur when too much
stress is placed on your joint or other tissue, often by “overdoing” an
activity or repeating the same activity over and over. Overuse injuries
include:

  • Retrocalcaneal bursitis, which is
    inflammation of the bursa. This condition causes swelling and tenderness of the
    back of the heel and ankle. Pain usually gets worse while you are wearing shoes and during activity, and
    it improves during rest.
  • Achilles tendinitis or tendinosis (tendinopathy), which is the breakdown of soft tissues in and
    around the Achilles tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel
    bone.
  • Stress fracture, which is a hairline
    crack in a bone
    .
  • Plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a broad, flat
    ligament on the bottom of the foot that extends from the front of the heel to
    the base of the toes and helps maintain the arch of the foot.
  • Metatarsalgia, which is pain in the front (ball) of
    the foot.

Treatment

Treatment for your toe, foot, or ankle
injury may include first aid measures (such as the application of a brace,
splint, or cast), a special shoe (orthotic device), physical therapy,
medicine, and, in some cases, surgery. Treatment depends on:

  • The location, type, and severity of your
    injury.
  • When the injury occurred.
  • Your age, your
    overall health condition, and your activities (such as work, sports, or
    hobbies).

Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.

Check Your Symptoms

Do you have a toe, foot, or ankle injury?
Yes
Toe, foot, or ankle injury
No
Toe, foot, or ankle injury
How old are you?
Less than 5 years
Less than 5 years
5 years or older
5 years or older
Are you male or female?
Male
Male
Female
Female
Has it been more than a month since the toe, foot, or ankle injury?
Yes
Toe, foot, or ankle injury over a month ago
No
Toe, foot, or ankle injury over a month ago
Have you had toe, foot, or ankle surgery in the past month?
If a cast, splint, or brace is causing the problem, follow the instructions you got about how to loosen it.
Yes
Toe, foot, or ankle surgery in the past month
No
Toe, foot, or ankle surgery in the past month
Do you think that any of your toes might have frostbite?
Yes
Cold temperature exposure
No
Cold temperature exposure
Have you had a major trauma in the past 2 to 3 hours?
Yes
Major trauma in past 2 to 3 hours
No
Major trauma in past 2 to 3 hours
Do you have severe bleeding that has not slowed down with direct pressure?
Yes
Severe bleeding
No
Severe bleeding
Do you have symptoms of shock?
Yes
Symptoms of shock
No
Symptoms of shock
Are you having trouble moving your foot or toes normally?
You may not be able to move it because of pain or swelling or because it is out of its normal position.
Yes
Difficulty moving foot
No
Difficulty moving foot
Can you move the toes, foot, and ankle at all?
Yes
Able to move the toes, foot, and ankle
No
Unable to move the toes, foot, and ankle
Have you had trouble moving the foot or toes for more than 2 days?
Yes
Difficulty moving foot for more than 2 days
No
Difficulty moving foot for more than 2 days
Is there any pain in the toes, foot, or ankle?
Yes
Pain in toes, foot, or ankle
No
Pain in toes, foot, or ankle
How bad is the pain on a scale of 0 to 10, if 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain you can imagine?
5 to 10: Moderate to severe pain
Moderate to severe pain
1 to 4: Mild pain
Mild pain
Has the pain:
Gotten worse?
Pain is increasing
Stayed about the same (not better or worse)?
Pain is unchanged
Gotten better?
Pain is improving
Do you have any pain in your toes, foot, or ankle?
Yes
Toe, foot, or ankle pain
No
Toe, foot, or ankle pain
How bad is the pain on a scale of 0 to 10, if 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain you can imagine?
8 to 10: Severe pain
Severe pain
5 to 7: Moderate pain
Moderate pain
1 to 4: Mild pain
Mild pain
Has the pain:
Gotten worse?
Pain is getting worse
Stayed about the same (not better or worse)?
Pain is unchanged
Gotten better?
Pain is getting better
Has the pain lasted for more than 2 days?
Yes
Pain for more than 2 days
No
Pain for more than 2 days
Is the foot or are any of the toes blue, very pale, or cold and different from the other foot or toes?
If the foot or leg is in a cast, splint, or brace, follow the instructions you got about how to loosen it.
Yes
Foot or toes are blue, very pale, or cold and different from other foot or toes
No
Foot or toes are blue, very pale, or cold and different from other foot or toes
Is any part of a toe partially or completely cut off?
Yes
Part of toe cut off
No
Part of toe cut off
Is it more than the tip of the toe or more than half the size of a dime, or can you see the bone?
Gently wash off any dirt, wrap the cut-off part in a clean cloth, put the wrapped part in a plastic bag, place the bag on ice to keep the digit cool and bring it to the hospital.
Yes
More than tip of toe severed
No
More than tip of toe severed
Is there any swelling or bruising?
Yes
Swelling or bruising
No
Swelling or bruising
Did you have swelling or bruising within 30 minutes of the injury?
Yes
Swelling or bruising within 30 minutes of injury
No
Swelling or bruising within 30 minutes of injury
Has swelling lasted for more than 2 days?
Yes
Swelling for more than 2 days
No
Swelling for more than 2 days
Do you have weakness, numbness, or tingling in your foot that has lasted more than an hour?
Weakness is being unable to use the foot or toes normally no matter how hard you try. Pain or swelling may make it hard to move, but that is not the same as weakness.
Yes
Weakness, numbness, or tingling for more than 1 hour
No
Weakness, numbness, or tingling for more than 1 hour
Do you think that the injury may have been caused by abuse?
Yes
Injury may have been caused by abuse
No
Injury may have been caused by abuse
Are there any symptoms of infection?
Yes
Symptoms of infection
No
Symptoms of infection
Do you think the problem may be causing a fever?
Some bone and joint problems can cause a fever.
Yes
Possible fever
No
Possible fever
Are there red streaks leading away from the area or pus draining from it?
Yes
Red streaks or pus
No
Red streaks or pus
Do you have diabetes, a weakened immune system, peripheral arterial disease, or any surgical hardware in the area?
“Hardware” includes things like artificial joints, plates or screws, catheters, and medicine pumps.
Yes
Diabetes, immune problems, peripheral arterial disease, or surgical hardware in affected area
No
Diabetes, immune problems, peripheral arterial disease, or surgical hardware in affected area
Is the foot trapped in something, like a jar or a toy?
Yes
Foot is trapped
No
Foot is trapped
Was an object stuck in your toe or foot?
This could be something like a nail, a needle, or a large piece of wood, metal, or plastic.
Yes
Object was embedded
No
Object was embedded
Is the object still in your foot?
Yes
Object is still embedded
No
Object is still embedded
Did the object go through a shoe or boot?
An object that has enough force behind it to go through a shoe can cause serious injury to the foot. Puncture wounds in the sole of the foot also have a high risk of infection.
Yes
Object went through a shoe or boot
No
Object went through a shoe or boot
Do you think you may need a tetanus shot?
Yes
May need tetanus shot
No
May need tetanus shot
Have you had symptoms for more than a week?
Yes
Symptoms for more than a week
No
Symptoms for more than a week

Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:

  • Your age. Babies and older
    adults tend to get sicker quicker.
  • Your overall health. If you have a condition such as diabetes, HIV, cancer, or heart
    disease, you may need to pay closer attention to certain symptoms and seek care
    sooner.
  • Medicines you take. Certain
    medicines, herbal remedies, and supplements can cause symptoms or make them
    worse.
  • Recent health events, such as surgery
    or injury. These kinds of events can cause symptoms afterwards or make them
    more serious.
  • Your health habits and lifestyle, such as eating and exercise habits, smoking, alcohol or drug
    use, sexual history, and travel.

Try Home Treatment

You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.

  • Try home treatment to relieve the
    symptoms.
  • Call your doctor if symptoms get worse or you have any
    concerns (for example, if symptoms are not getting better as you would expect).
    You may need care sooner.

Pain in adults and older children

  • Severe pain (8 to 10): The pain
    is so bad that you can’t stand it for more than a few hours, can’t sleep, and
    can’t do anything else except focus on the pain.
  • Moderate pain (5 to 7): The pain is bad enough to disrupt your
    normal activities and your sleep, but you can tolerate it for hours or days.
    Moderate can also mean pain that comes and goes even if it’s severe when it’s
    there.
  • Mild pain (1 to 4): You notice the pain,
    but it is not bad enough to disrupt your sleep or activities.

Major trauma is any event that can
cause very serious injury, such as:

  • A fall from more than
    10 ft (3.1 m) [more than
    5 ft (1.5 m) for children under
    2 years and adults over 65].
  • A car crash in which any vehicle
    involved was going more than
    20 miles (32 km) per
    hour.
  • Any event that causes severe bleeding that you cannot
    control.
  • Any event forceful enough to badly break a large bone (like an arm bone or leg bone).

Pain in children under 3 years

It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.

  • Severe pain (8 to 10): The
    pain is so bad that the baby cannot sleep, cannot get comfortable, and cries
    constantly no matter what you do. The baby may kick, make fists, or
    grimace.
  • Moderate pain (5 to 7): The baby is
    very fussy, clings to you a lot, and may have trouble sleeping but responds
    when you try to comfort him or her.
  • Mild pain (1 to 4): The baby is a little fussy and clings to you a little but responds
    when you try to comfort him or her.

Pain in children 3 years and older

  • Severe pain (8 to 10): The pain
    is so bad that the child can’t stand it for more than a few hours, can’t sleep,
    and can’t do anything else except focus on the pain. No one can tolerate severe
    pain for more than a few hours.
  • Moderate pain (5 to 7): The pain is bad enough to disrupt the child’s normal activities and
    sleep, but the child can tolerate it for hours or days.
  • Mild pain (1 to 4): The child notices and may complain of the pain,
    but it is not bad enough to disrupt his or her sleep or activities.

Shock is a life-threatening condition that may quickly occur
after a sudden illness or injury.

Symptoms of shock (most of which will be present) include:

  • Passing out (losing consciousness).
  • Feeling very dizzy or
    lightheaded, like you may pass out.
  • Feeling very weak or having
    trouble standing.
  • Not feeling alert or able to think clearly. You
    may be confused, restless, fearful, or unable to respond to questions.

Shock is a life-threatening condition that may occur quickly
after a sudden illness or injury.

Symptoms of shock in a child may include:

  • Passing out (losing consciousness).
  • Being very sleepy or hard
    to wake up.
  • Not responding when being touched or talked to.
  • Breathing much faster than usual.
  • Acting confused.
    The child may not know where he or she is.

With severe bleeding, any of these may
be true:

  • Blood is pumping from the wound.
  • The
    bleeding does not stop or slow down with pressure.
  • Blood is quickly soaking through bandage after bandage.

With moderate bleeding, any of these may
be true:

  • The bleeding slows or stops with pressure but
    starts again if you remove the pressure.
  • The blood may soak through
    a few bandages, but it is not fast or out of control.

With mild bleeding, any of these may be
true:

  • The bleeding stops on its own or with
    pressure.
  • The bleeding stops or slows to an ooze or trickle after
    15 minutes of pressure. It may ooze or trickle for up to 45 minutes.

When an area turns blue, very pale, or cold, it can mean that there has been a sudden change in the blood
supply to the area. This can be serious.

There are other reasons
for color and temperature changes. Bruises often look blue. A limb may turn
blue or pale if you leave it in one position for too long, but its normal color
returns after you move it. What you are looking for is a change in how the area
looks (it turns blue or pale) and feels (it becomes cold to the touch), and
this change does not go away.

Symptoms of infection may
include:

  • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in or
    around the area.
  • Red streaks leading from the area.
  • Pus draining from the area.
  • A fever.

Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system’s ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:

  • Diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease,
    and HIV/AIDS.
  • Long-term alcohol and drug
    problems.
  • Steroid medicines, which may be used to treat a variety
    of conditions.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for
    cancer.
  • Other medicines used to treat autoimmune
    disease.
  • Medicines taken after organ transplant.
  • Not
    having a spleen.

You may need a tetanus shot depending
on how dirty the wound is and how long it has been since your last shot.

  • For a dirty wound that has
    things like dirt, saliva, or feces in it, you may need a shot if:

    • You haven’t had a tetanus shot in the past 5
      years.
    • You don’t know when your last shot was.
  • For a clean wound, you may
    need a shot if:

    • You have not had a tetanus shot in the past 10
      years.
    • You don’t know when your last shot was.

Seek Care Today

Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.

  • Call your doctor today to discuss the symptoms
    and arrange for care.
  • If you cannot reach your doctor or you don’t
    have one, seek care today.
  • If it is evening, watch the symptoms and
    seek care in the morning.
  • If the symptoms get worse, seek care
    sooner.

Seek Care Now

Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.

  • Call your doctor now to discuss the symptoms and
    arrange for care.
  • If you cannot reach your doctor or you don’t have
    one, seek care in the next hour.
  • You do not need to call an
    ambulance unless:

    • You cannot travel safely either by driving
      yourself or by having someone else drive you.
    • You are in an area
      where heavy traffic or other problems may slow you down.

Call 911 Now

Based on your answers, you need
emergency care.

Call 911 or other emergency services now.

Call 911 Now

Based on your answers, you need
emergency care.

Call 911 or other emergency services now.

Put direct, steady pressure on the
wound until help arrives. Keep the area raised if you can.

Make an Appointment

Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
care.

  • Make an appointment to see your doctor in the
    next 1 to 2 weeks.
  • If appropriate, try home treatment while you
    are waiting for the appointment.
  • If symptoms get worse or you have
    any concerns, call your doctor. You may need care sooner.
Toe, Foot, and Ankle Problems, Noninjury
Postoperative Problems
Cold Temperature Exposure

Home Treatment

Most minor injuries will heal on
their own, and home treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve your
symptoms and promote healing. But if you suspect that you may have a more severe
injury, use first aid measures while you arrange for an evaluation by your
doctor.

First aid for a suspected broken bone

  • If a bone is sticking out of your skin, do not
    try to push it back into your skin. It is better to leave the bone alone and
    cover the area with a clean bandage.
  • It is important to
    control bleeding from your injury.
  • Be sure
    to remove all anklets or rings immediately. It may be hard to remove the
    jewelry after swelling occurs, which in turn can cause other serious problems,
    such as nerve compression or restricted blood flow.
  • Try to
    free your trapped toe or foot if it is stuck in an object, such as a pipe,
    toy, or jar.

If a cast or splint is applied, be sure to keep it
dry, and try to move the uninjured part of your extremity as normally as
possible to help maintain muscle strength and tone. Your doctor will give you
instructions on how to
care for your cast or splint.

Home treatment for a sore or sprained toe

Home treatment for a minor foot or ankle injury

If
you have a minor injury, try home treatment measures to relieve pain, swelling,
and stiffness.

  • Be sure to
    remove all rings, anklets, or any other jewelry that goes around a leg or ankle. It
    will be harder to remove the jewelry later if swelling
    increases.
  • Use
    rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Clean a skin wound as soon as possible to help prevent infection, scarring, and tattooing of the skin from dirt left in the wound. The bacteria Pseudomonas is a common cause of infections when a puncture wound occurs through the sole of an athletic shoe.
  • If you have pain from blood under a nail, you can drain it to relieve the pain.
  • Walk or bear weight on your affected foot as
    long as it is not painful. If it is painful and the pain continues, check your symptoms again.
  • Gently massage or rub the area to relieve pain and encourage
    blood flow. Do not massage the injured area if it causes pain.
  • For
    the first 48 hours after your injury, avoid things that might increase swelling
    in the injured area, such as hot showers, hot tubs, hot packs, or alcoholic
    beverages.
  • After 48 to 72 hours, if your swelling is gone, apply
    heat and begin gentle exercise to help restore and
    maintain flexibility. Some experts recommend alternating between heat and cold
    treatments (contrast baths).
  • Start exercises using the
    MSA process (gentle exercise). MSA stands for movement, strength, and alternate
    activities.

    • Movement. Resume a
      full range of motion as soon as possible after an injury. After 24 to 48 hours
      of rest, begin moving the injured area. Stop any activity if it causes pain, and
      give the injured area more rest. Gentle stretching will prevent scar tissue
      formation that may decrease movement.
    • Strength. As soon as the swelling is gone and range of motion is
      restored, begin gradual efforts to strengthen the injured area.
    • Alternate activities. After the first few
      days but while the injury is still healing, phase in regular exercise using
      activities or sports that do not place a strain on the injured area. If certain
      activities cause pain, stop doing those activities but continue doing your
      other exercises.

Range-of-motion exercises

Begin
gentle range-of-motion exercises right after your
injury while you have ice on your ankle. Perform a set of exercises by
repeating them 10 to 30 times. Do each set 3 to 5 times a day.

Try
the following simple
range-of-motion exercises:

  • Trace the alphabet with your toe, encouraging
    ankle movement in all directions.
  • Sit in a chair with your foot
    flat on the floor. Slowly move your knee from side to side while keeping your
    foot pressed flat.

Towel curls. While sitting, place a hand towel on a
smooth floor, such as wood or tile. While keeping your heel on the ground, curl
your toes and grab the towel with your toes to scrunch the towel. Let go, and
continue scrunching up the entire length of the towel. When you reach the end
of the towel, reverse the action by grabbing the towel with your toes,
scrunching it, and pushing it away from you. Repeat the exercise until you have
pushed the entire length of the towel away from you.

Stretching exercises

About 48 to 72 hours after
your injury, start exercises to stretch your
Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles on
the back of the lower leg to the bone at the base of the heel.

Towel stretch. If you can’t stand, sit with your knee
straight and a towel looped around the ball of your foot. Gently and slowly
pull back on the towel for 15 to 30 seconds until you feel your calf stretch.
Repeat 2 to 4 times. In moderate to severe ankle sprains, at first it may be
too painful to pull your toes far enough to feel a stretch in your calf. Use
caution, and let pain be your guide. A little pain is normal, but you should
not feel moderate to severe pain. Do this exercise 2 or 3 times each day for
about a week. Then, make Achilles stretches part of your daily routine to
maintain flexibility.

Calf stretch. If you are able to stand,
you can do this exercise by facing a wall with your hands at shoulder level on
the wall. Place your injured foot behind the other with the toes pointing
forward. Keep your heels down and your back leg straight. Slowly bend your
front knee until you feel the calf stretch in the back leg. Repeat as above.

Strengthening exercises

As soon as
you can bear weight without increased pain or swelling, begin
muscle-strengthening exercises. These exercises should be held for 3 to 5
seconds. Do 15 to 20 repetitions once or twice daily for 2 to 4 weeks,
depending on the severity of your injury.

Start by sitting with
your foot flat on the floor and pushing it outward against an immovable object
such as a wall or heavy furniture. After you feel comfortable with this, try
using rubber tubing looped around the outside of your feet for resistance.

While still sitting, put your feet together flat on the floor.
Press your injured foot inward against your other foot.

Next,
place the heel of your other foot on top of the injured one. Push down with the
top heel while trying to push up with your injured foot.

Balance and control exercises

When you are able to
stand without pain, you can begin balance and control exercises. You can start
by standing in a doorway and lightly holding on to the doorjamb. When you can
do this for 60 seconds, try adding the advanced moves in the next level.

Stand on your injured foot only and
hold your arms:

  • Out to the side with your eyes
    open.
  • Across your chest with your eyes open.
  • Out to
    the side and close your eyes.
  • Across your chest and close your
    eyes.

Do six repetitions, holding each for 60 seconds, once a
day.

Take good care of your feet

Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. Smoking slows
healing because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue repair. For more
information, see the topic
Quitting Smoking.

Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription
medicine to help treat your pain:

Talk to your child’s doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these
safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions
    on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the
    recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an
    allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If
    you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take
    it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other
    than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
treatment:

  • Pain or swelling develops.
  • Signs of infection develop.
  • Numbness; tingling; or cool, pale skin develops.
  • Symptoms do not improve with
    home treatment.
  • Symptoms become more severe or more
    frequent.

Prevention

The following tips may prevent toe, foot,
or ankle injuries.

Toe, foot, and ankle tips

  • Avoid problems by wearing good footwear. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes.
  • Do not walk barefoot in areas such as streets and parks where
    you have an increased risk of stepping on an object.
  • Use a rubber
    mat to stand on if your work requires you to stand on hard surfaces. This will
    help to reduce stress on your feet.
  • Buy new running shoes often.
    Experts recommend getting new athletic shoes every 3 months or after 500 miles
    of wear. Overworn shoes may not absorb shock well or provide traction or
    protection.
  • Reduce your risk of reinjury by wrapping your foot or
    ankle or wearing a supportive brace during activities or exercises where injury
    is a risk.
  • Prevent blisters caused by poorly fitting shoes or
    socks.
  • Do
    exercises for heel pain and tightness. This is especially important for athletes
    before they participate in sports. It is also helpful for people who are not
    involved with sports.
  • To help prevent foot injuries and problems:
    • Wear good athletic shoes, such as shoes
      with cushioned soles (especially heels) and good arch support. Physical
      therapists, orthopedists, podiatrists, and sports medicine health professionals
      can advise you.
    • Buy new shoes every few months, because padding
      wears out. Also buy new shoes if the tread or heels wear down. The expense is
      worth preventing ongoing (chronic) foot or ankle problems.
    • Be
      reasonable in your training:

      • Stretch your foot, ankle, and leg
        muscles before and after exercise.
      • Avoid rapidly increasing the
        number of miles you run, running or training uphill, and running on hard
        surfaces, such as concrete.
      • Avoid excessive sprinting (short, rapid
        bursts of running).
  • Never cut
    calluses and corns with a razor or a
    pocketknife.
  • Avoid foot problems or injuries,
    especially if you have
    diabetes.

Reduce falls

General prevention tips

  • Use a step stool. Do not stand on chairs or
    other unsteady objects.
  • Wear protective gear during sports or
    recreational activities, such as roller-skating or soccer to prevent injuries for you or your child. Supportive splints
    may reduce your risk of injury.

  • Maintain a reasonable weight for
    your height.
  • Stretch before and after physical exercise, sports, or
    recreational activities to warm up your muscles.
  • Walk regularly to
    improve circulation, increase flexibility, reduce fatigue, and encourage bone
    and muscle development.
  • Use the correct techniques (movements) or
    positions during activities so that you do not strain your
    muscles.
  • Avoid overusing your foot and ankle with repeated
    movements that can injure your
    bursa or tendon. In daily routines or hobbies, examine
    activities in which you make repeated movements.
  • If you feel that
    certain activities at your workplace are causing pain or soreness from overuse,
    talk to your human resources department for information on alternative ways of
    doing your job or to discuss equipment modifications or other job
    assignments.

Keep your bones strong

  • Eat a nutritious diet with enough
    calcium and
    vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium.
    Calcium is found in dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt; dark
    green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli; and other
    foods.
  • Exercise and stay active. It is best to do weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing, or lifting weights, for 2½ hours a week. One way to do this is to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. In addition to weight-bearing exercise, experts recommend that you do resistance exercises at least 2 days a week. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that is right for you. Begin slowly, especially if you have not been active. For
    more information, see the topic Fitness.
  • Do not drink more than 2
    alcoholic drinks a day if you are a man, or 1 alcoholic drink a day if you are
    a woman. People who drink more than this may be at higher risk for weakening
    bones (osteoporosis). Alcohol use also increases your risk of
    falling and breaking a bone.
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco
    products. Smoking puts you at a much higher risk for developing osteoporosis.
    It also interferes with blood supply and healing. For more information, see the
    topic
    Quitting Smoking.

Possible abuse

Injuries such as bruises, burns,
fractures, cuts, or punctures may be a sign of
abuse. Suspect possible abuse when an injury cannot be
explained or does not match the explanation, repeated injuries occur, or the
explanations for the cause of the injury change. You may be able to prevent
further abuse by reporting it and seeking help.

Preparing For Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
following questions:

  • What are your main symptoms?
  • How long
    have you had your symptoms?
  • How and when did an injury occur? How
    was it treated?
  • Can you walk, or is walking
    difficult?
  • Have you had any injuries in the past to the same area?
    Do you have any continuing problems because of the previous
    injury?
  • What activities related to sports, work, or your lifestyle
    make your symptoms better or worse?
  • What home treatment measures
    have you tried? Did they help?
  • What nonprescription medicines have
    you taken. Did they help?
  • Do you have any
    health risks?

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP – Emergency Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine

Current as ofMarch 20, 2017