Foot or ankle wounds can occur for a variety of reasons. However, one thing remains certain that they must be examined and treated.
By definition, a wound is damaged skin and/or tissue layers due to some injury or cut, or abrasion. If that wound doesn’t heal it may become chronic. A chronic wound continues to grow deeper into the foot or ankle, at that point becoming an ulcer. This can lead to open sores, reduced skin sensations, and even decreased blood flow.
Needless to say, a wound, any wound to the foot or ankle must be dealt with.
Wounds to the foot can be caused by almost anything, unfortunately. Being barefoot and happening and stepping on something, catching a sharp object are some common ones that are sometimes unavoidable.
However chronic wounds are thought to sometimes be due to cardiovascular conditions, such as diabetes which can impair wound healing.
Here is a list of some conditions that can cause chronic wounds, and/or ulcers:
- Poor circulation (atherosclerosis) & circulatory problems
- Inflammatory disease
- Nerve damage to the feet (peripheral neuropathy)
- Bone & muscle abnormalities
It’s imperative that if you do have an underlying condition, as listed above, you do take special care of your feet and see a specialist when affected by any wound to the foot or ankle.
Treatment of Foot and Ankle Wounds
The best treatment of wounds (and ulcers) is prevention.
While accidents do happen it’s important to protect your feet and ankles as much as possible, they are important extremities to your body.
Start with properly fitting footwear, nothing too loose, this includes wearing socks that fit well (neither loose nor too tight). You should also examine your feet on a daily basis and practice good foot hygiene (washed, nails trimmed, etc.). These will help in decreasing the amount of damage that happens to the foot or ankle.
If you are examining your feet here are some symptoms to be mindful of:
- Bruising & redness
- Ulcers or open sores (may appear as a red hole or surrounded by hard callused skin)
- Burning and itching
With regards to foot or ankle wounds, there are a number of things that we recommend doing.
In general, it’s a good idea to remove any excess debris around and from the injured area. It’s also a good idea to use medication and dressing to decrease further damage and also manage pain. If the wound is more severe or at risk of infection we may recommend antibiotics.
To permit better-wound healing, post-treatment, we often suggest resting and elevating the foot and ankle, compression, and also wearing specialized footwear. Following these recommendations can allow the blood to flow in the areas needed and decreasing pressure to help the injury heal.
If the wound is severe, chronic, or progressed to an ulcer, it is suggested to see a well-trained podiatrist.
Podiatrists are experienced and well-trained in wounds specific to the foot and ankle.
Furthermore, a podiatrist can best determine how to deal with the following:
- Traumatic wounds from injuries
- Animal or insect bites
- Puncture wounds
- Pressure wounds
- Arterial wounds from poor circulation
- Venous Stasis Ulcers (wounds that usually appear on the ankles, accompanied by swelling)
Overall Foot and Ankle Wound Care
Take care of your feet, but if you do get a wound, don’t ignore it, take the time to clean it, examine it and treat it.
If the injury is traumatic, or the wound looks more than something you can monitor via a home dressing, it’s worth it to see a podiatrist.
If you have a cardiovascular condition such as diabetes, it’s imperative to monitor and get your foot or ankle checked by a podiatrist.
As well, remember to try and prevent injury to your foot or ankle with proper care, good fitting shoes, hygiene, examining for any abrasions, and it doesn’t hurt to stay hydrated.
Here at the Foot & Ankle Specialists of Illinois, we can help you manage a number of Diabetic related foot and ankle conditions. We have a number of services to help treat these conditions including cast fittings to help with off-loading foot pressure, vascular testing, and more.