By: Dr. Ellis Schauder|March 20, 2023
If you need help recovering from an auto accident, make an appointment with Schauder Chiropractic & Wellness for compassionate and effective care. Call (407) 275-6700.
Although many doctors see patients with crash-related head, neck, and back injuries, they also care for many common foot injuries from car accidents. Drivers are vulnerable to foot and ankle injuries because of the placement of their feet on the pedals while driving, but anyone in the car can sustain injuries to their lower extremities.
As Orlando’s auto accident injury doctor, we provide medical treatment to hundreds of patients dealing with the effects of whiplash, torn ligaments, and other injuries from car accidents. Here, we explain some of the most common foot-related conditions and how we treat them.
An Overview of Accident-Related Foot and Ankle Injuries
Even a minor accident can injure vehicle occupants. Injuries aren’t always immediately obvious, so it’s critical to seek medical treatment as soon as possible, even if you feel fine, to ensure that you don’t have a hidden injury that will cause symptoms later.
Most common foot injuries from car accidents show up right away, though. In most cases, the injury results from a jammed ankle. The force of the impact in a crash can cause abnormal twisting, stretching, or extension in the foot and ankle, resulting in the following painful injuries that limit mobility.
Car accidents often cause broken or fractured foot bones. Several different fractures can occur, including heel, toe, and forefoot fractures. Lisfranc fractures, or broken bones in the center of the foot, are also common.
A car crash can also lead to fractured bones in the ankle and leg. Ankle avulsion fractures, for example, occur when the impact on a tendon or ligament causes it to break off part of the bone. Stress fractures, which cause immediate, severe pain, can also occur.
Fractures can take weeks or months to heal. Some, like ankle avulsions and heel fractures, typically require surgery.
Ankle Sprains and Strains
The bone-supporting soft tissues in your ankle, including the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and cartilage, are also vulnerable to injury in a car accident. When the accident causes tendons and ligaments to stretch beyond their capacity, the result is a sprain or strain. This is likely to happen if your foot gets caught under one of the pedals or the seat.
In any case, it can be a painful injury that takes time to heal. You may need physical therapy after a severe sprain or strain in your ankle to regain strength and mobility.
Ligament and Tendon Tears
If the ligaments or tendons in your foot or ankle stretch to the point of tearing, the result is an unstable foot and difficulty walking. Typically, torn soft tissue requires surgical repair, but some minor injuries may heal on their own.
Severe trauma to your foot that leads to broken bones, puncture wounds, or other damage can result in compartment syndrome. Compartment syndrome can cause several issues, including pressure, nerve damage, and internal bleeding, all of which cause extreme pain.
Cuts and Bruises
Even if you don’t have any broken bones or soft tissue injuries, a car accident can cause cuts, bruises, and burns that may require medical treatment. Deep lacerations may need stitches, for example, while you only need to avoid aggravating a bruise while it heals to prevent pain.
Diagnosing and Treating Foot and Ankle Injuries
Seeking medical treatment for a foot or ankle injury right after an accident can also help you avoid long-term consequences like chronic pain and arthritis. Ignoring the injury or choosing to live with the discomfort can change how you walk, which can worsen discomfort or cause tension and pain in other parts of the body. Getting help for your injury can also preserve your mobility and ability to enjoy your usual activities.
It’s also important to see your doctor if you develop injury symptoms any time after the accident. Seek medical treatment if you experience:
- Sudden or increasing pain
- Difficulty walking
The specific treatment plan depends on your injury and its severity. Broken bones may require a cast or surgery, while you can treat a minor bruise with rest and ice. You might also need physical therapy or rehabilitation to restore function after an injury.
Chiropractors can also help you manage the pain of a foot injury. Chiropractic adjustments can help reduce discomfort during recovery and prevent further injury.
Preventing Foot and Ankle Injuries
Even careful drivers can experience car accidents. The CDC reports that more than two million people visit emergency rooms yearly due to vehicle accidents. Although seatbelts and airbags can prevent many serious injuries, they don’t protect your feet and ankles.
As mentioned, drivers have a greater risk of a lower extremity injury because of the pedals. The position of the pedals requires the driver to keep their right leg stretched out, making it more prone to injury. Keep your left leg bent and your foot flat on the floor while driving to help protect it from injury; passengers should keep both legs bent with their feet on the floor.
Make an Appointment at Schauder Chiropractic & Wellness After an Accident
If you are in a car accident in Florida, you have 14 days to seek a medical evaluation and treatment if you plan to file a personal injury claim. Even if you don’t think you sustained any injuries in a crash, see a doctor as soon as possible to be sure. A comprehensive exam and X-rays may reveal damage that could result in chronic pain and other long-term consequences without treatment.
Keep in mind that many common foot injuries from car accidents may not show up until hours or days after the incident or worsen as you go about your regular activities. The sooner you get a diagnosis and start treatment, the sooner you will heal.