Identifying a foot wound can determine whether or not you would need medical attention. Knowing the differences between minor scrapes and bruises and a severe injury to the bones and tendons can greatly impact one’s ability to enjoy life more fully. Even if they look like they’ll heal adequately, serious injuries can sometimes dictate a person’s ability to walk, take part in sports, and enjoy other aspects of life often missed. When it comes to identifying wounds, it’s essential to understand that underlying conditions can often determine how a person heals and recovers from their injuries. Here’s our basic outline for understanding some of the most common foot injuries out there.
When Does An Injury Become A Bigger Problem?
Wounds and injuries are often interchanged in today’s language. Still, when a podiatrist refers to wounds, they’re explicitly referring to damage to the skin and tissue layers, such as cut or abrasion. Injuries encompass a broader set of wounds and include damage that doesn’t impact the skin, such as bruises and sprains. In severe enough cases, injuries can also cause nerve damage and become more vulnerable to conditions such as infections. Here, we will separate these concepts into multiple categories and outline some underlying causes for these injuries and how they progress over time.
Wounds and Ulcers
Wounds are open areas of the skin and tissue layers, and often in a healthy individual, these wounds will heal on their own, despite their soreness and pain. However, chronic wounds that won’t heal often lead to ulcers, where the wound grows deeper into the foot. Wounds that would normally come from rough terrain or catching skin on a sharp object can turn into serious cases, as ulcers are highly vulnerable to infections. Diabetic foot ulcers are the most common forms of wounds, often occurring due to poor circulation and high blood glucose levels. Other conditions can also cause ulcers, including:
• Cardiovascular Disease
• Circulatory problems
• Bone/Muscle Abnormalities
• Nerve Damage
Bruises and Sprains
Bruises, also known as contusions, are also quite common; they’re patches of broken blood vessels underneath the skin. As the bruises heal, they gradually change color until it matches back towards the person’s skin. Bruises that won’t heal often turn into hematomas. Hematomas usually are caused by forces that cause bruises but cause more pain, swelling, and other complications. Difficulties walking, foot pain, numbness, and swelling often indicate hematomas, and in rare cases, can be an underlying cause of more serious conditions, such as:
• Aplastic anemia
• Rheumatoid arthritis
Sprains and Fractures
Sprains and fractures occur within two different parts of the body; sprains are indicated by torn ligaments, while fractures indicate cracks throughout the supporting bones. These injuries can be healed with casts, medications, and time, but when these don’t heal or occur more often, then it could also indicate underlying conditions such as:
• Osteoporosis or other bone disorders
• Flat feet
• Paget’s Disease
• Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Diabetic feet
To learn how to recognize injuries better and find better ways of managing your foot conditions, please contact Appalachian Foot & Ankle Associates in either Asheville, NC, or Marion, NC, operated by Dr. Thomas Rehm, Jennifer Szypczak, Matthew Sheedy, and Gregory Costanzo for more information.