Posts for: July, 2012
When the 2012 Summer Olympic Games kick off this Friday, athletes from all over the world will gather in London to show off their athletic feats. Only one of these athletes, however, is a double amputee.
Oscar Pistorius is the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics. Pistorius was born without fibulas, one of the two bones of the leg. Because of this, his legs were amputated at the middle of his shins. Despite this, he played several different sports when he was younger, and now is a well-known sprinter. He competes with the assistance of two blade-like carbon fiber prosthetics, giving him the nickname “Blade Runner.”
After failing to qualify for the 2008 Olympics, Pistorius qualified last year for the 2012 Olympics to represent his native South Africa. Despite setting several records for disabled athletes, Pistorius will now compete against able-bodied athletes from around the globe.
As a Podiatrist at Advanced Foot and Ankle Care in Troy Oh, I especially know how amputations can affect not only one’s mobility, but their quality of life. Athletes like Pistorius continue to defy the status quo and strive to make the most out of their disability. Be sure to tune into this summer’s Olympic Games and try to catch a glimpse of the “fastest man with no legs”.
When the weather gets warm, both men and women ditch their more constrictive footwear in favor of the foot-freeing flip-flop. Flip-flops offer some protection for your feet, and thus they are better than walking around barefoot. They are fine to wear at the beach and public pools, as they can protect your feet from hot sand and concrete. They are also great to wear in public showers, often found in locker rooms at the gym and at the beach, to protect your feet from Athlete’s foot.
Flip-flops, however, are not meant to be an all-purpose summer shoe, and can cause several foot problems if worn too much. Because they are flat, they do not offer much arch or heel support, which can lead to foot pain. The thong can irritate the space between your toes, and can lead to a neuroma. The gripping action your toes must do to keep the flip-flops on your feet can be a contributing factor to hammertoes.
With these in mind, we at Advanced Foot & Ankle Care want you to be sensible this summer when wearing flip-flops. First, try to find flip-flops with arch support. If you are having difficulty finding a suitable pair, myself or one of our podiatrists would be happy to give you their recommendation. Second, consider switching to a “slide” type sandal to prevent irritation between your toes. Third, and perhaps most importantly, avoid wearing flip-flops for long periods of time; flip-flops are great to wear at the beach and at the pool, but they are not meant to be worn all summer long.
With the Summer Olympics fast approaching I remember one of the greatest and most memorable Olympic moments in history. For the 1996 US women’s gymnastics team to have a chance at gold, little Kerri Strug would have to nail her vault. The unthinkable happened as Kerri completed her first of two vaults; she fell while landing, ripping ligaments in her ankle. She then ignored her injury and stuck the landing of her second vault. Who can forget her collapsing to the floor in pain after securing the American team its first ever Olympics gymnastics gold?!? Kerri Strug went on to become one of the most recognizable faces of the 1996 games. What a great ending, right? Well, if this really was the end of the story, it would be. But it wasn’t.
In 1997 Sports Illustrated wrote about Strug, “A year after her Olympic vault to fame, Kerri Strug now carries herself stiffly and walks with a trace of a limp. Physical therapy took a backseat to making appearances.” A lot of people are like Kerri Strug and see a sprain as a minor injury that they can struggle through without treatment. They don’t take time out of their busy lives to treat the injury, and they end up paying for it later. This time of year is the height of the ankle injury season at Advanced Foot and Ankle Care, and we have all of the experience, diagnostic and treatment tools to get you back on your feet and enjoying the rest of your summer.
To understand how to adequately treat an ankle sprain first we should start at the beginning and understand the injury itself.
Anatomy of an Ankle Sprain:
The ankle bones are held in position by ligaments. The ligaments protect the ankle against abnormal movements like twisting, turning, and rolling of the foot. Ligaments are elastic within their limits, but when they are forced beyond their normal range, a sprain occurs. Sometimes the ligaments even tear, and you may hear a popping sound. Pain and swelling soon follow. Sprains are given grades 1, 2, and 3, increasing in pain and swelling along with ligament injury from stretching to complete rupture.
Diagnosing the Sprain:
The first step in treating an ankle sprain is properly diagnosing it. At Advanced Foot and Ankle Care we have several techniques to properly diagnose ankle injuries. The most important technique we employ is the history and physical examination. By listening to our patients’ mechanism of injury and examining their injured foot and ankle we usually have a good idea of what we’re dealing with. We also take x-rays to rule out a break in the bones. The diagnostic ultrasound machine is often used to evaluate tendons and ligaments for ruptures and tears. It’s also possible that an MRI might be ordered to confirm our diagnosis if we suspect injury to the joint surface, a small bone chip, or a very severe injury to the ligaments and tendons.
Treating the Sprain:
We treat ankle sprains based on their severity or grade.
Grade 1 sprains should be treated with rest using a special boot called a CAM boot, icing, a compressive wrap, and elevation. After a patient has healed enough that a CAM boot is no longer necessary they may find a non-custom brace helpful as they transition back into normal physical activity.
Grade 2 sprains are again treated with rest using a CAM boot (possibly with the addition of an assistive device such as crutches), icing, compressive wraps, elevation, non-custom bracing, and physical therapy. Physical therapy is an invaluable part of treatment to regain strength and range of motion after ankle injury. Adequately rehabilitating an ankle sprain goes a long way toward preventing reinjury to the ankle.
Grade 3 sprains may be treated the same as Grade 2 sprains but could possibly require surgical repair. Physical therapy is of even more importance in these high grade injuries, and a custom brace may be helpful for walking on uneven surfaces or performing sporting activities that require sharp, sudden turns (cutting activities) like tennis, basketball, or football.
Healing an ankle sprain can take as long as healing a broken ankle bone. Lower grade sprains usually take 4-6 weeks to heal, and higher grade sprains can take months to feel back to normal. It may even be several months before you are able to return to sporting activities. 40% of those with acute ankle sprains will develop chronic symptoms of ankle dysfunction such as pain, swelling, recurrent injury, and weakness. The healing process can be slow, but it’s so important to be patient and seek the proper treatment to avoid these problems.
Hillarie Amburgey, DPM