Protecting ankles, feet from winter's assaults

January 11, 2017

(HealthDay)—From broken bones to frostbite, you're at extra risk for foot and ankle injuries during winter. But you can protect yourself, according to a surgeon who specializes in podiatry.

"During the winter months, patients should take extra precaution to keep their warm and dry when navigating frigid temps, especially patients who have existing health conditions," said Dr. Greg Catalano, a Massachusetts-based and ankle surgeon.

The first step is to wear proper footwear, he said.

"Whether caused by wearing high heels on icy surfaces or just sheer accident, falls are one of the most common causes of weather-related injuries. Oftentime, wintertime falls result in an ankle sprain, or worse, a broken bone in the foot, ankle, heel or toe. I encourage patients to wear low-heeled shoes or boots with a traction sole to help prevent slipping," Catalano said.

Water-resistant, insulated footwear provides a barrier between the feet and outside elements. This barrier is particularly important for people with neuropathy () or Raynaud's phenomenon (extreme sensitivity to cold), Catalano said.

"While different, both conditions block normal blood flow in the feet and place a person at a greater risk of developing additional problems. In some cases, people can incur chilblains, which are itchy, tender, red patches that emerge in response to cold air, or in extreme cases, frostbite," Catalano said in a news release from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

It's also a good idea to wear moisture-wicking socks that prevent dampness from sweat, he added.

Some people place foot warmers in their shoes, but Catalano said they can burn the skin and cause severe harm for people with nerve damage. He recommends talking with a foot expert before using them.

If you do suffer foot and ankle problems, take appropriate action, Catalano advised.

"In the case of a suspected fracture or sprain caused by a fall, see a foot and surgeon or visit the emergency room as soon as possible for prompt diagnosis and treatment. If medical care is unavailable, for temporary relief of symptoms, try the RICE principle—Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. But, remember, delaying treatment can result in long-term complications," Catalano said.

If your feet are exposed to cold and dampness for a long time, soak them in warm—not hot—water. Avoid direct heat. A warm-water soak will allow your feet to regain their normal temperature gradually, he said.

Explore further: Turkey day touch football might lead to ankle injuries

More information: The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on foot health.

Related Stories

Turkey day touch football might lead to ankle injuries

November 26, 2015
(HealthDay)—Touch football is an important Thanksgiving tradition for many Americans, but more than 25,000 people will suffer a serious ankle injury during those games, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) ...

Stay safe, play safe in a winter wonderland

December 20, 2016
(HealthDay)—When you're outdoors enjoying the winter weather, be sure to protect against cold temperature-related injuries, a sports medicine expert says.

Hanging holiday lights holds hidden danger, surgeon warns

December 11, 2015
(HealthDay)—Putting up holiday lights can lead to serious foot injuries from slips and falls, an expert warns.

Winter shoes can boost bunion pain

November 26, 2016
(HealthDay)—As temperatures tumble and women switch from sandals to closed-toe shoes, bunions can be a real pain, experts say.

'Minimal' shoes may reduce running injuries

November 21, 2016
Runners who wear trainers with no cushioning and land on the ball of their foot rather than the heel put significantly less demand on their bodies, new research suggests.

Proper foot hygiene is key for 'Happy Feet' this summer

April 29, 2016
As warmer temperatures approach, in the midst of getting your beach body ready, don't forget to take care of your feet, said Dr. Ronald Lepow, a podiatrist and assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor College of ...

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.