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When is it Urgent to See a Specialist About a Foot or Ankle Problem?

Injuries with exposed bone and/or active bleeding need to be seen immediately in the nearest emergency room. In the event of this type of injury call 911 or proceed directly to the nearest emergency room for treatment. You can then schedule a follow up appointment with our foot and ankle specialists.

 

Foot and ankle conditions that may result in future complications if not treated urgently by a foot specialist include:

 

  • Foot and Ankle Sprains/Fractures: It is often difficult to tell the difference between a sprain and a fracture. These injuries are sometimes misdiagnosed in emergency rooms and urgent care centers and can lead to complications requiring more complex surgery, debilitating conditions and longer recovery time. Many times there is a delay in having your x-ray read by a radiologist or foot and ankle specialist.  Less obvious fractures and tendon tears can be missed. If you have already been to an ER or urgent care center you may want to see us for a second opinion as soon as possible after the injury. Open Fractures (exposed bone, active bleeding, broken skin) should be treated at a hospital emergency room where surgery can be immediately performed.


  • Toe Fractures: Delayed complications of a broken toe that occur after the toe has healed include arthritis, pain, stiffness and/or deformity. Toe fractures are also often under-treated and can result in months of pain and swelling in the toes or foot, if not treated correctly. If you suspect a broken toe, seek medical care from a foot and ankle specialist to ensure proper diagnosis and realignment of the bones in your foot to ensure optimal recovery.


  • Plantar Fascia Rupture: (severe pain in arch or heel) A tear in the plantar fascia feels like a sudden “pop” in the arch of your foot followed by a sharp, tearing pain in the sole of the foot. It often occurs during stop and start sports, but can also occur as a result of abnormal gait, improper footwear or being overweight. This is a condition that should be seen urgently by a foot and ankle specialist to provide treatment for pain control and immobilization with casting to prevent excessive soft tissue scarring.  If you continue to walk on on a partial or full thickness plantar fascia tear, you will cause increased scar tissue resulting in prolonged healing and prolonged pain.


  • Tendon Rupture: (severe pain in foot or ankle) If left untreated a tendon rupture can lead to permanent disability. Management for tendon rupture may be surgical or non-surgical depending on the site and severity of the rupture.  Tendons with the most risk for continued complications after injury include the posterior tibial tendon and the peroneal tendon.  If the torn tendon is treated without fixing the underlying mechanism of injury (the way the bones of your foot move, stretching the tendon beyond it's capacity) the injury and your pain will return, even after the tendon is completely healed.


  • Gout: Gout attacks can be sudden and extremely painful. When you have a foot and/or ankle joint that is tender, swollen, red and radiating heat you will want to act fast. Getting treatment for Gout within the first 24 hours of the start of the an attack can lessen its length and severity.