Toe, foot, or ankle injuries most commonly occur during:
- Sports or recreational activities.
- Work-related tasks.
- Work or projects around the home.
Older adults are at higher risk for injuries and fractures because they lose muscle mass and bone strength (osteopenia) as they age. They also have more problems with vision and balance, which increases their risk of injury.
An acute injury may occur from a direct blow, a penetrating injury, or a fall, or from twisting, jerking, jamming, or bending a limb abnormally. Your pain may be sudden and severe. Bruising and swelling may develop soon after your injury. Acute injuries include:
- Bruises (contusions). After an ankle injury, bruising may extend to your toes from the effects of gravity.
- Puncture wounds. Sharp objects, such as nails, tacks, ice picks, knives, teeth, and needles, can all cause puncture wounds. Puncture wounds increase your risk of infection because they are hard to clean and they provide a warm, moist place for bacteria to grow. The bacteria Pseudomonas is a common cause of infections when a puncture wound occurs through the sole of an athletic shoe.
- Injuries to ligaments that support your joints.
- Injuries to tendons, such as ruptured tendons in your heel (Achilles tendon). Children ages 8 to 14 may have a condition known as Sever's disease, which causes injury to the growing bone where the Achilles tendon is attached. This usually occurs during activity and is relieved with home treatment.
- Injuries to your joints (sprains). If a sprain does not appear to be healing, a condition known as osteochondritis dissecans may be present, causing persistent symptoms.
- Pulled muscles (strains). Muscles of the foot and ankle can be strained and can also rupture.
- Broken bones (fractures), such as a broken toe.
- A bone moving out of place (dislocation).
- A crushing injury, which can lead to compartment syndrome.
Treatment for your toe, foot, or ankle injury may include first aid measures (such as the application of a brace, splint, or cast), a special shoe (orthotic device), physical therapy, medicine, and, in some cases, surgery. Treatment depends on:
- The location, type, and severity of your injury.
- When the injury occurred.
- Your age, your overall health condition, and your activities (such as work, sports, or hobbies).