Manufacturing Perils: When You Manufacture Injuries Instead of Products
Posted by Jenn F. on Thursday, December 20th, 2012
Most people have had a traumatic foot or ankle injury at some point during their lives. If you have my kind of luck, it’ll happen in front of several witnesses, all of whom happen to have their cell phone or digital cameras trained in your direction. Marvelous. When an injury happens in front of people on the manufacturing floor you may dismiss it, hoping to avoid embarrassment. If you’ve worked hard to establish yourself in the factory hierarchy, injury may feel like a real blow to your reputation. Maintaining a good safety record is important for advancement. But if you want to recover as quickly as possible, it’s important to get prompt attention.
Breaking that fifth metatarsal is easier than it sounds. This is often called “dancer’s fracture” because it’s such a common injury in that profession. But don’t be fooled: it can happen to non-dancers too. Any turn of the foot can snap this delicate bone, like a misstep on a slippery factory floor or on a stair. Neither of these injuries can be attributed to your negligence so you shouldn’t be concerned with repercussions. A broken fifth metatarsal can land you in a cast for six weeks. But, the sooner you get that cast, the sooner you can return to work.
Sprained ankles are among the most common orthopedic injuries (roughly 2,500 occur each day), but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to fix. A sprain usually occurs as the result of a bad landing. You don’t have to be jumping to land wrong (although basketball players do have more than their fair share of ankle sprains). Anyone can sprain an ankle stepping on an uneven surface, putting too much weight on the inside or outside ligaments, the structures that control movement in the joint. Carrying heavy equipment (especially if you can’t see your feet) can result in mis-judged steps, twists, and sprains. When the ligament is stretched too far, it tears, either partially or completely.
Since sprains are so common, most people don’t take them terribly seriously, especially when they happen in the middle of a busy workday. This can be dangerous. For mild sprains, RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) may be enough, but for more severe sprains, rushing recovery can result in a chronically weak ankle. This can lead to a lifetime of recurrent sprains. According to Dr. Tricia Hubbard, undergraduate athletic training director at the University of North Carolina, “Most research is showing that with any ankle sprain, the ankle should be immediately immobilized to protect the joint and allow the injured ligaments to heal. At least a week for the simplest sprain, ten to fourteen days for a moderate sprain, and four to six weeks for more severe sprains.” If you think you might have a severe sprain (you can’t walk more than a few steps or have severe bruising or swelling) visit The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900).
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.