Common Foot Injuries

The majority of foot injuries seen in an office setting are simple sprains (the partial or complete tearing of ligaments) or fractures (the breaking of bones). Most ankle sprains are caused by an inward “turning” of the ankle, such as when stepping on a high edge of sidewalk or stepping in an unseen small hole. These cause lateral ankle sprains and fractures. The toes point down and the foot turns in at the time of injury. Office treatment usually consists of a synthetic walking cast for simple fractures/severe sprains and ankle bracing for common sprains.

Lack of treatment can lead to repetitive ankle sprains with even the most minor of incidents and a condition called chronic lateral ankle instability. It is usually associated with an athletic foot-type that has a high arch that curves inward, the so-called cavovarus foot-type. Physical Therapy is attempted if the injury is not too severe, but surgery is often required to correct.

Cavovarus type feet can also lead to a rather common lateral (outside) foot fracture along the outside center of the foot called a 5th metatarsal base fracture where a strong tendon attachment actually tears a piece of the bone off (called an avulsion fracture). It is like when two pieces of glued wood are torn apart and the wood splinters as the glue is stronger than the wood. Most of these can be treated with a removable cast, but severe cases require surgery.

The other injuries we commonly see are of the direct trauma type, like kicking a bedpost hard straight-on walking barefoot in a darkened bedroom causing toe and/or metatarsal sprains or fractures. Or dropping a heavy object on the foot, like a can or hammer. Most of these injuries can be treated by removable cast, but severe cases require surgery.