Injuries of the Foot and Ankle
Foot and ankle trauma is any injury to the bones, joints and soft tissue (muscles, ligaments and tendons) that make up the ankle and foot. These injuries are often sudden and sometimes serious. They can occur if you’re involved in a fall or collision during any kind of activity. Sports and car accidents are common causes.
In injuries of the foot and ankle, the bones and joints can break (fracture) and tissues can stretch or tear. A fractured bone can be complete (broken into two or more pieces), incomplete, displaced (completely broken and misaligned) or open (piercing through the skin).
Types of foot and ankle trauma include:
- Stress fractures. These are bone breaks caused by repeated stress from things like frequent strenuous sports or exercise or hard physical labor. One of the most common types of stress fractures are tarsal navicular stress fractures. These occur in the navicular bone of the tarsus (the bones that make up the middle and back parts of the foot).
- Jones fractures. These are fractures of the bone on the outside of the foot (fifth metatarsal).
- Heel bone fractures. Fractures of the heel bone (calcaneus).
- Ankle fractures. These include talus fractures and pilon fractures.
- Ankle sprains. An injury to the ankle ligaments.
- Achilles tendon injuries. An injury to the Achilles tendon, which runs along the back of the ankle.
- Lisfranc injury. An injury to the joints and/or ligaments of the midfoot.
- Joint dislocation. An abnormal separation in a joint. This can happen in the ankle or foot.
Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook
Pain and swelling are the main symptoms of foot and ankle trauma. In some cases, the pain can cause your body to go into shock. Open fractures cause open wounds that may bleed.
Most traumatic injuries to the foot and ankle require immediate medical attention at an emergency room or urgent care clinic. Your doctor will complete a physical exam and order an X-ray, MRI or CT scan to assess the injury and plan treatment.
Mild foot and ankle trauma often heals well when the right treatment is sought without delay. Full healing of severe injuries is also possible with an individualized rehabilitation plan.
Experts in Care
Meet our doctors, view their profiles and select the one that’s right for you.Find a doctor near you
Why Choose Penn State Health for Care
Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report
Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.
Coordinated, Specialized Care Through a Dedicated Institute
Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. There, they focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. This produces the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional niche areas of orthopaedics, including arthritis care and joint arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery).
Designated as a Blue Distinction® Center
Penn State Bone and Joint Institute is a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. This superior designation from BlueCross BlueShield is only given to health care facilities and providers that stand out for their expertise in delivering specialty knee and hip replacement care. Our surgeons specialize in a range of pain-relieving procedures, including partial knee replacement, total joint arthroplasty, joint preservation surgery and complex revision surgery. They perform more than 1,000 joint replacement procedures every year.
Confidence in Treatment Through Education
We developed a special joint replacement education website just for patients undergoing joint arthroplasty. The website takes you step by step through the joint replacement process. From things to consider before choosing surgery to recovery after surgery, you’ll find the information you need to help you feel confident in your decision to undergo joint replacement.
Advancing Orthopaedic Medicine Through Research
The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing our field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.
Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.
Find the care your family needs, close to home, at one of our many locations throughout central Pennsylvania.Find a location near you