Female holding her ankle in pain

Whether it’s catching the winning touchdown, a heelflip on a skateboard or just walking down the street with two left feet, an injury to the foot or ankle can occur any time. Diana Young, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Loma Linda University Health, says there is no sure-fire way to prevent a foot injury, but there is a right way to heal from a sprained ankle or broken foot.​

Though both vary in degrees of pain, a sprain is defined as a torn tendon or soft tissue injury. A fracture is a broken bone. No matter the injury, a high level of pain may be felt, Young says.​

If the injury is a minor sprain, an individual may feel slight tenderness or bruising, or swelling may occur. These injuries can first be treated by:

  • Wrapping the foot or ankle in ice

  • Elevating the foot or ankle

  • Refraining from walking or standing on the foot

Young encourages individuals to seek consultation with a physician if the pain and swelling persist or if there are any concerns at all. An X-ray may be taken to determine if there is a fracture and/or dislocation. If appropriate, a physician may refer the patient to physical therapy as an alternative to helping the recovery process.

If a patient experiences a broken bone, Young encourages they seek medical attention immediately. If instructed to avoid walking or putting pressure on the injured foot or ankle, the patient is advised to follow instructions to prevent doing more harm than good. An X-ray may be taken to rule out a broken bone and allow the physician to determine the best treatment option. This may include a cast, surgery and most likely rehabilitation.

“For patients whose break requires surgery, the recovery process is often longer and requires more diligence to the rehabilitation process,” Young says.

As with any injury, there is a period of recovery. It’s important for patients experiencing a foot or ankle injury to follow their physician’s instructions carefully, Young says. “If a patient hurries back to play or even starts walking sooner than told, it can lead to more severe problems,” Young says.

Loma Linda University Health’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery specializes in a variety of non-surgical treatments and minimally invasive techniques, in addition to complex surgical care. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call 909-558-2808 or visit MyChart online.