Foot and ankle traumas can happen on the basketball court, at the job site, or even after taking an awkward step off the curb or down the stairs. You can’t always predict when they’ll occur, but you can control your response. Quick-thinking first aid will help you protect bones and tendons that may vulnerable to further damage, as well as begin the healing process as soon as possible.

First things first. If there is any bleeding, priority No. 1 will be stopping it. If there’s a severe fracture—severe enough that bone has pierced the skin—don’t try to push it back in. You’re better off leaving it alone and simply covering the area with a clean bandage. It goes without saying that you should call 911 immediately and get to a hospital or surgery center as quickly as possible. Remove any anklets or jewelry you may be wearing near the injury site, as these can cause complications after swelling occurs.

Fortunately, most foot and ankle traumas (such as sprains, tendon ruptures, and even many broken bones) won’t break the skin. In such situations, you want to remember the acronym RICE for your first aid needs:

  • R is for Rest. Stop your activity immediately and put as little weight on your injured foot as possible (ideally none).
  • I is for Ice. Apply a protected ice pack (wrapped in a towel to protect your skin) for around 20 minutes at a time. You can do this 3-4 times per day as needed.
  • C is for Compression. Elastic bandages such as Ace wraps will help manage swelling in the first 48 hours or so. It should be snug but not so tight that leads to numbness or swelling in the area below the bandage.
  • E is for Elevation. Prop your feet up as you are able throughout the day, whether you’re sitting or lying down. Ideally, keep the injury above the level of your heart, as this will provide the greatest anti-inflammatory benefit.

Any foot trauma you sustain should be evaluated by a professional as soon as possible. Don’t be tempted to wait out what seems like a “minor” injury—the damage could be a lot worse, and the foot more vulnerable, than you might expect. If you don’t need the emergency room, you should make a call to the Kansas Foot Center—we do our best to make same-day and next-day appointments whenever possible.

To schedule with us in Wichita or Newton, please call the office today at (866) 222-5177.