Tag Archive for: Sprain

Black Ice & Twisted Ankles in Colorado Spring

Coloradans know that black ice not only is a winter phenomenon; it occurs in springtime, too, when temperatures soar during the day only to rapidly drop after sundown.  No matter winter or spring, of the most common injuries associated with black ice is twisted or sprained ankles. Face it, black ice and the resulting hazards are simply a fact of life during Colorado spring. And the last thing you want to do is start your spring with a twisted ankle from wiping out on black ice. Here is what you need to know about the perils of Colorado’s black ice, twisted ankles and what you can do when gravity and the elements don’t work in your favor.

What is Black Ice?

Black ice derives its name from the nearly transparent ice that forms on roads and walkways, placing anyone who drives, runs, or walks on it in peril. Black ice occurs when temperatures drop below freezing, which rapidly cools whatever precipitation is on the roadways into a transparent and very thin sheet of extremely slippery ice. Black ice can also develop if low-level fog is present and the temperatures drop rapidly, cooling the fog into condensation and forming that thin sheet of ice. 

Twisting Ankles

A twisted or sprained ankle is caused when the foot or ankle rolls past the point the ligament’s normal capacity. The resulting damage causes swelling, pain and a bruising – a sprain. What a twisted ankle is not is a broken ankle. In fact, the bone is unaffected when the ankle is twisted or sprained. That doesn’t mean it isn’t painful. There are three degrees of sprains:

–       A first degree sprain is mildest and accompanied by minimal swelling and tenderness. Despite the pain, the tear is small and usually will take a few days to heal when treated with RICE (Rest, Elevation, Ice & Compression).

–       A second degree sprain is more pronounced and quite painful, but can still bear some weight. Expect to be out of commission for a week or two. Your orthopedist may brace your ankle and will advise you to use the RICE method. They may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and recommend you take it very easy for a while to encourage healing and keep swelling at bay.

–       A third degree sprain is the most serious, as the ligament has suffered a complete tear. Walking and any weight-bearing is not possible. Third degree sprains are often marked by purple and blue discolorations under the skin and require weeks to heal. You will likely be needing crutches or a scooter and you may not be able to drive if your right ankle is affected (or if you drive stick). Your orthopedist may cast the injury or create a splint for you; in some cases surgery may be recommended to repair the tear.

No Sprain, No Pain

A light sprain may seem inconsequential, but that is no reason to avoid seeing your orthopedist. Only medical imaging can confirm if the bone has been injured or if there is a sleeper injury that can compound over time. Remember, any delays seeking attention could result in more permanent issues. The longer you wait the greater your chances of lasting damage.

Your Orthopedic Experts in Colorado Springs

With spring just around the corner, don’t assume you are immune from the dangers of black ice. If you should find yourself in a twisted ankle conundrum, call Colorado Center of Orthopedic Excellence. As Colorado Springs’ experts in orthopedic and musculoskeletal medicine, they are the trusted caregivers of Olympians and people who just love the outdoors. Call them at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment through their online portal here.

How to Deal with an Orthopedic Emergency While at Work

Just because you sit at a desk all day doesn’t mean you can’t experience an orthopedic emergency on the job. Hazards are everywhere! Slipping over spilled coffee; straining your back while lifting a box of printer paper; suddenly experiencing frozen shoulder. So just because you aren’t a lumberjack or longshoreman doesn’t mean that you are immune from experiencing an orthopedic while at work. Here’s how you can deal with it should it happen to you.

Triage Yourself

The first thing to do is assess the severity of your condition. Is it an orthopedic emergency? In other words, might you need to go to urgent care or the emergency room, or can it wait to for an appointment with your orthopedist? Here are a few examples of what may be considered an orthopedic emergency.

·      Following an orthopedic procedure such as a hip replacement knee surgery, you are experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing – all of which may indicate a blood clot in the lungs.

·      Following surgery on a lower extremity, pain and swelling in the calf. This could indicate thrombosis that might become a deadly embolus in the lung.

·      A post-operative wound that starts to drain spontaneously.

·      Following joint replacement surgery, a painfully swollen joint that accompanied by fever and/or chills, which could indicate an infection.

·      If you are in a solid cast, pain, swelling and numbness in the fingers or toes. This is known as cast compression syndrome.

·      Following lumbar spine surgery or an epidural spinal injection, severe back pain along with weakness in the legs and difficulty empting your bladder. This could indicate internal bleeding around the spinal cord.

·      Following orthopedic surgery, an accidental fall or twist of a post-operative limb followed by a noticeable increase in pain. This could indicate several things, to include a change in the fixation of a fracture, a new fracture, or – if you’ve recently had a total hip replacement – a dislocation of the hip joint.

·      Groin or thigh pain followed by an inability to walk. This could indicate an osteoporotic fracture of the hip.

Emergencies that are not post-operative

Other orthopedic emergencies that could happen at work include a broken or fractured arm or leg, a dislocated shoulder, or a sprain or strain. If you are able to move, seek medical attention right away. If you can’t move, have emergency medical attention come to you. Many offices have emergency medical personnel on standby; if you don’t be sure to clear a path so responders can come. Bring your purse and cell phone with or have a colleague accompany you as you may be laid up for a while.

If your orthopedic emergency happens on the job and is work-related, be sure to capture all the data – place, witnesses, photographs – in case you need to file a workman’s compensation claim.

If you experience any sort of head trauma such as a concussion, see a medical professional immediately.

In the event of an orthopedic emergency, don’t hesitate to visit – or have someone transport you – to an orthopedic urgent care facility. There, you can receive immediate care, as opposed to a hospital emergency room where it may take time to see an orthopedic specialist.

Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs provides its patients with optimal comprehensive orthopedic care and primary care (non-operative) sports medicine on an urgent care basis. Whether you have an orthopedic emergency at work, home or in the field, our specialists are readily available to provide you with world-class care and service. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons will diagnose the condition and explain your treatment options. Call us at (719) 623-1050 today for an appointment.