The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) reports falls on icy surfaces are a major cause of ankle sprains and fractures and offers these tips to keep everyone safe this winter season:
- Wear low-heeled boots or overshoes with good traction. High-heeled boots may be preferred, but there isn't enough surface with good traction.
- Holiday winter wonderlands can be beautiful, but also dangerous. Watch for ice or snow patches along the trail. The ankle joint can be more vulnerable to serious injury from falling on ice as it accelerates the fall and often causes more severe trauma since the foot can move in any direction after it slips.
- As soon as you get inside, remove your boots or dry them well. Snow and ice can remain on shoes, leading to falls indoors.
People believe, 'If I can walk on my foot, the ankle isn't broken.' Putting weight on the injured joint can worsen the problem and lead to chronic instability, joint pain and arthritis later in life. It is also possible to have both a fractured and sprained ankle at the same time, and a bad sprain can mask a fracture. It's best to have an injured ankle evaluated as soon as possible by a foot and ankle surgeon for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Follow this mnemonic: R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation to help reduce pain from swelling. Remember that falls happen suddenly. Never reach out for anything that appears equally unstable. Don't put your hand out to break the fall. This is usually how wrists get broken.
Rain falls, then puddles in certain areas of the yard, walkway or pavement. The temperatures drop quickly and the water freezes. Fresh pine needles fall on top of the ice. Pine needles are slick to begin with, but they hide an extreme danger from man. One foot on the icy needles and down a person goes.
Know the path that is taken, where puddles are likely to collect. Know how thick the ice is. Pop the area directly in front by using a walking cane. This will break up any ice hiding there. Use the cane to help gain traction in very slick areas.
If people begin to hurry and scurry about, someone might get the opportunity to watch his neighbor go slip-sliding away this Christmas season.
Be prepared this winter and take good care of the feet. Ankles are complex joints, not easy to repair.