The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Untreated Foot Fractures and Ankle Sprains: Dangerous Long-Term Consequences and Complications

Posted by on Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

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Many people feel they can’t afford a doctor. However, a foot injury can become a serious (and expensive) problem years down the road if it hasn’t been treated properly. At our NYC Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine, we understand the stress that unanticipated medical expenses can cause — especially for those who are uninsured. We work with patients to create reasonable payment plans and find alternative financing so every person who comes through our door can enjoy prompt treatment without breaking the bank. Read on to learn about the consequences and complications that may arise from untreated fractures, sprains and other foot injuries.

Arthritis

Chronic inflammation from a traumatic injury can cause arthritis to develop in the injured joint. This can happen whether you receive prompt medical care or not, but it is much more likely to occur is you have not sought treatment. Naturally, the quicker the bones are set and on the road to recovery, the quicker the inflammation dissipates and more chance you have to heal without arthritis.

Impaired Function & Deformity

“A talar fracture that is left untreated or that doesn’t heal properly will create problems for you later,” according to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Houston, Texas. “Your foot function will be impaired, you will develop arthritis and chronic pain, and the bone may collapse.” Writing in Fight Times magazine, Dr. Stefan Eriksson says that “Of all traumatic orthopedic injuries encountered in the emergency department, foot and ankle injuries appear to result in higher functional loss than any other orthopedic injury does.” If left untreated, even small stress fractures can progress to displacement with malunion of the bones and a subsequent foot deformity.

 

Compartment Syndrome

“Compartment syndrome can develop in the foot following crush injury or closed fracture,” Dr. Michael S. Pinzur MD explains. “Following some critical threshold of bleeding and/or swelling into the fixed space compartments, arterial pulse pressure is insufficient to overcome the osmotic tissue pressure gradient, leading to cell death.” Symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling, burning, tightened / bulging muscles and difficulty moving.

Infection, Pressure Ulcers & Gangrene

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons warns: “In general, the greater the extent of soft tissue damage, the greater the risk for infection. If an infection becomes chronic (osteomyelitis), it may lead to further surgeries and amputation.” Even something as small as a blister can cause an infection. But when the bones break internally and are not properly set, the bone marrow is open to whatever microbes enter the body. Pressure ulcers may develop as a result of infection. It may start off looking like peeling skin, a scrape or a shallow crater. Later, it will deepen, change colors, and start to reveal underlying fat, muscle or bone. The further an ulcer progresses, the harder it is to treat. Sometimes amputation is the only recourse to prevent the infection from spreading throughout the body.

As you can see, it’s not worth the risk to try and save a buck. If you are in the NYC area, call our office to schedule a prompt visit.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. 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.