A blanket of newly fallen snow may be beautiful and serene, but unfortunately, it’s often accompanied by ice, which can increase the risk of winter foot injuries. Not only do people frequently fall on ice, but also trying to maintain balance while standing on it creates issues. Some hospital emergency rooms see up to 500 percent more patients in the winter months, due to falls on the ice. The professionals at Canyon Foot + Ankle in Burley and Twin Falls explain some of the most common winter foot injuries from ice, treatment, and future prevention.
Common Winter Foot Injuries From Ice
All it takes is one slick step, sidewalk, driveway, or parking lot to compromise your mobility. Here are some of the foot injuries most related to snow and ice.
Stress Fractures and Broken Bones
These are the injuries many of us think of in relation to ice. Slips and falls are the most common causes of broken bones in the feet and ankles.
Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendonitis
Trying to maintain balance on slippery surfaces can lead to overuse injuries, including the ones listed above. While these are painful conditions, they can often be successfully treated with non-invasive methods if you’re seen quickly by a podiatrist.
When a person loses their balance, ankles easily twist and sprain.
In winter conditions, the wrong shoes can increase the chances of developing blisters. These can be especially problematic for people with diabetes, whose foot injuries can quickly escalate from quite minor to serious.
Spending a prolonged period of time outside in cold conditions might lead to frostbite. This may initially be a minor injury, but it can become worse if not treated quickly and properly. If your feet become cold or you start to lose feeling, it’s time to get inside and remove wet socks.
Treating Injuries From Slips on the Ice
If you have an injury from falling on the ice, seek immediate medical care. Depending on how you were hurt, there are various ways that one of our podiatrists might be able to help.
Imaging. An X-ray or MRI may be used to get a better idea of what is going on inside the foot to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
Ice. For sprains, strains, and other injuries that create swelling, repeated ice pack applications help reduce pain and inflammation.
Over-the-counter pain relievers. Anti-inflammatory medication may be recommended for pain management.
Foot wrapping. For some injuries, a secure bandage can help to relieve pain and swelling.
Weight reduction. Just because you can walk on your injured foot doesn’t mean you should. A bad sprain or a break is often made worse with regular movement, even potentially leading to chronic joint pain, instability, and arthritis later in life.
Non-invasive professional care might also be necessary. At Canyon Foot+Ankle, we successfully treat many conditions that cause foot and ankle pain with physical therapy, orthotics, regenerative medicine, and other non-surgical options. But if your winter-related injury caused damage to ligaments, tendons, muscles, or bones, foot surgery may be necessary.
Preventing Winter Foot Injuries
At Canyon Foot + Ankle in Burley and Twin Falls, Idaho, we want to give our patients the right tools to enjoy winter’s beauty without hurting themselves. Although it’s not always possible to avoid the injuries listed above, there are some actions you can take to reduce your chances of hurting your feet in wintry weather while still enjoying all of the wonderful outdoor activities available in Idaho’s Magic Valley.
Skiing, Snowboarding, or Snowshoeing
Footwear that’s too large can create unnecessary strain on the feet, while footwear that’s too small cramps toes and causes blisters.
Because skates are typically pointy at the front, a lot of people end up with skates that squeeze their toes. This can aggravate existing hammertoes, bunions, and neuromas. Also, consider padding or a bandage to help reduce the chances of developing blisters.
A beautiful winter hike can be invigorating, but be sure to do it in boots with thick tread to help you grip the trails safely. Choose waterproof hiking boots to prevent frostbite, too.
No matter what winter outdoor activity you’re doing, be sure to try on your footgear with thick winter socks to ensure that they still fit without squeezing your feet. This includes winter boots. It may also be necessary to change socks if water seeped into your boots. Ideal winter socks are moisture-wicking and insulated, and may need to be layered to protect from the cold.
It’s also important for home and business owners to be sure they remove snow and ice from sidewalks and driveways to prevent themselves and others from getting hurt.
Additionally, it can be helpful to provide well-lit walkways in the evening, as there are more hours of darkness in the winter and people may have more trouble navigating even familiar areas.