How to heal your fractured foot and ankle: An artist's guide
My Left Foot
Watercolor pencil, 4 x 6 inches
I am not a doctor. However, I've enjoyed a lifetime of learning how to heal myself and keep myself relatively healthy. It's fun for me. Herein, I'm sharing the healing measures I've taken for my own foot and ankle fractures with hopes that some or all of this information may be of help to you.
I am somewhat of an expert on ankle sprains but, after a recent fall, not only did I suffer a massive ankle and foot sprain but also fractured my 5th metatarsal (a Jones Fracture) cracked my medial tibia from mid-calf straight through the ankle bone and cracked something on the outside ankle bone. I did not have any displaced bones and did not require any surgery. You can read about the details of my injury on my left foot posts. In fact, I recommend that you read these related earlier posts on healing!
Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Stick to this tried and true formula for the first 48 - 72 hours to which I'll add...
Immediately apply Arnica Gel or Traumeel. Begin taking Arnica Tablets internally. Take the recommended dosage of any pain medication. Apparently, Ibuprofen is "off the list for mending bones" (it interferes with process) but helps to reduce swelling in sprains.
Ask for help. Have x-rays taken so that you know what's injured. Ask for a ride to the E.R. Bring a good book. Ask for print copies of your x-rays. Why? A succession of doctors did not notice that my medial tibia and ankle were fractured for one month. I had to tell them that I thought I had additional breaks.
Do not try to walk on your foot. I mean it!
Your healing regimen
Attitude is crucial. So, first off, Count Your Blessings! Fractures and sprains are temporary. Become aware of any whining or complaining. Whining and complaining do you no good whatsoever. In fact, engaging in this crankiness will probably make you feel worse. People will expect you to complain. Surprise them. Be of good cheer. You won't always be able to feel chipper but make a go of it anyway. It'll make you feel better. All things considered, you're experiencing a rather minor issue. But if you do not properly care for yourself, you'll make matters worse and add to your recovery time.
Do NOT walk on your foot. I still mean it! I am off my foot for 12 - 14 weeks. When I first sprained my ankle at age 11, it was placed in a plaster cast. Within a week, I'd removed it with my father's hammer and chisel. I know you want to walk as soon as possible. Do not do so until your bones can support you. Deal with it.
Do NOT smoke. Trying to walk on your foot before the bones, ligaments and tendons are healed and smoking are the absolute worst things you could possible do. Frankly, I was a closet smoker. Just two or three cigarettes in the evening. When I broke these bones, and I smoked... I could feel my inner self compromised at the cellular level. I don't know how else to express it. I have not had a cigarette since, nor have I desired one.
Rest. And I'm not talking about for one or two days. You must plan on resting more than usual throughout your recovery.
Do your research. Educate yourself. Ask your doctor as many questions as you can think of and then learn about your particular injury or set of injuries. It's interesting, fun to learn about and empowering. Make it a creative project! Go crazy on google. You're not going to be able to do much else for the first little while.
Expect a few pitfalls. Immobility, crutches, and slow going can be a pain. Like the learning curve, the healing curve is not straight up. You can pretty much plan on having a couple sets of downer days. If you're prepared, you can work your way through them more easily. Just relax and let it all wash over you. You're not always going to be laying around.
Accept your situation. What's done is done. Surrender. You are healing. It's going to take some time. Be Brave. You can do it! You are not actually healing your foot and ankle, you are creating the optimal conditions under which your bones and tendons and ligaments can heal at the cellular level.
Exercise. What? Yes. It's really important for your body but also for your mental state and general well being. You'll be much happier during and after recovery because of it. Swimming is your best bet and non-weight bearing yoga poses are wonderful.
Swimming: Find the schedule for your nearest pool and plan at least two lap swimming sessions per week. Ease into it. Don't force your injured foot to do anything it doesn't want to. Start with a kick board if you have to. Make it a game to increase your number of laps and time in pool per session. Be very careful with your crutches on the wet floors! Ask for whatever help you need getting in and out of the pool.
Yoga: I have created a sequence for you of non-weight bearing yoga positions. Obviously, you will have to modify some of these positions to accommodate your injured foot and ankle and you don't want to try anything you are not already secure with. This sequence will give you a basic routine to add or subtract from.
Click here for my PDF of non-weight bearing yoga sequence.
(Click here for further information on poses).
(or Comfrey Leaf to make a poultice)
Garlic and Ginger Capsules
Vitamin and mineral supplements
(a good multi-vitamin, Calcium Supplement , Vitamin C and B Complex )
Does this seem like a lot to buy? All of these items should live in your medicine cabinet or kitchen at all times. They are part of fundamental first aid and you should be taking the supplements anyway (imho). Think about doctor bills.
Speaking of which, if you want to add essential oils to your medicine cabinet, kitchen, and cleaning supplies, visit my essential oil store for the highest quality and my hands down favorite essential oils of all time.
Regarding the matter at hand (or foot!):
Arnica acts as pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. Application prevents or hastens healing of bruises and reduces swelling and works especially well if applied immediately after trauma (though is helpful to prevent pain and inflammation throughout healing period). Homeopathic Arnica pills and tablets taken internally have same effect.
The main active ingredient in Comfrey is Allantoin which generates cells and promotes cell replacement. Bones knit themselves back together on the cellular level. An old folk name for Comfrey is "knitbone".
Juniper (especially), Rosemary, Wintergreen and Peppermint help to promote circulation. Circulation helps to promote healing on a cellular level. So does massage. Healing on a cellular level helps to knit bones. Foot bones (especially the 5th metatarsal) have limited circulation (they're far from the heart), therefore, trouble healing.
By the way, I only recommend what I consider superior products at good prices that I, myself, use and love.
My triple threat treatment!
3x per day:
Slather a thin layer of Arnica Gel over your fracture and sprain areas
Drop Comfrey tincture on fracture and sprain areas and massage into skin
Gently massage adulterated* Grampa's Therapeutic Massage Oil into foot and ankle for 15 - 20 minutes (or as long as you can — some time is better than no time!).
*Add additional Juniper Oil and Olbas (contains juniper, rosemary, peppermint oils) to Grampa's Garden Therapeutic Oil to help further promote circulation.
I slept with a comfrey poultice on my foot and ankle during the first ten days. I could actually feel it working but the whole thing was a bit time consuming and messy so I switched to the tincture which I think is less effective but still very helpful.
Steer clear of sugar and caffeine (especially coffee), (if you can).
Do I have to say to not drink alcohol?
Eat well. Fresh vegetables and fruit. Real food. Drink pure water. You'll feel better.
You can find these in new age shops or ask a massage therapist where you might buy some or check ebay. You can sleep with these stones under your pillow and carry them around in a little stone pouch as you go through your daily life.
And one more thing! Buy yourself a good pair of knee pads. Sometimes you might have to climb, foot and knee (careful!), and sometimes you might just want to crawl. I recommend Fiskars Contoured-Fit Knee Pads.I've been using them all along and they've really helped.
As I stated at the outset, I am not a doctor nor am I in any way liable for any harm or injuries sustained if you choose to follow any of my leads in this post. However, I do have a load of personal experience and this has been my share on it!