Lift, shift, push, pull – construction work is a physically demanding job and most of the work is done on the move. So it’s understandable that those who work in construction come home with aching feet.
According to the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights, ankle and foot injuries are among the most commonly injured body parts for construction workers. Going up and down ladders, stairs and scaffolding and lifting heavy objects all day can create problems likes strains, sprains and bone bruising. Torn ligaments, overuse injuries, plantar fasciitis and broken bones account for loss time on the construction site. Maintaining balance and equilibrium to prevent falls and accidents are important as well as recognizing what can be done to minimize risk and prevent on the job injuries of the lower extremities. Here are a few best practices for proper care and prevention of foot and ankle injuries.
- Invest in well-made boots and if necessary prescription orthotics to compensate for any structurally abnormalities that can contribute to underlying foot problems.
- Treat minor problems before they become major problem. Yes, arch and heel pain is important, but don’t ignore your toes. Your big toe withstands 40 to 60% of your body’s weight so any injury or problem can have a big impact on your gait and ability to move effectively.
- Don’t ignore persistently swollen or numb feet, burning and tingling. These can be signs of a neuropathy, which diabetics are especially susceptible to.
- Infected or ingrown nails may develop into a cellulitis,a potentially serious bacterial skin infection that can rapidly spread to other parts of the body. Cellulitis appears as a swollen, red area of skin that feels hot and tender.
- Continued pain with activity. If your feet only hurt while you’re active, you could be suffering from a stress fracture. Without proper treatment, stress fractures can easily turn into broken bones.
We live in a society of immediate gratification. Waiting a couple of extra seconds for an Internet page to load feels like an eternity. A culture of impatience over slow website loads or less than same day delivery. We’ve come to expect things so quickly that when faced with an injury patients become easily frustrated when they are not healing as fast as they think they should.
Soft tissue injuries, muscle or connective tissue injuries often develop over time. There may be an incident of trauma, an accident, pop or accompanying fracture, however many are caused by repetitive stress, pulling forces that ligaments must resist and overtime are extreme enough to damage softer blood vessels and nerves. Long before breaking under a strain, tissue often gets “sick”, overused. Once that happens, the tissue loses the ability to tolerate even minor stresses. If these structures do become injured, their limited blood and nerve supply results in a longer recovery and healing period.
An evidence-based study of ankle ligament healing after an acute ankle injury showed that it took at least 6 weeks to 3 months before ligament healing occurred. However, at 6 weeks to 1 year after injury, a large percentage of participants still had “objective mechanical laxity and subjective ankle instability”. Alterations in the biology and biomechanics of the injured body part not only effect it but effect those structures surrounding it so that healing the area depends on contributions from multiple body systems . Physical condition, underlying medical problems, poor muscle balance, inflexibility and lack of tissue strength influence the time it takes a body to heal. You have to almost completely stop challenging the tissue, or it will never have a chance to recover.
Rebuilding, remodeling and recovery from injury takes time. Accepting the time it takes and giving your body (including the proper nutrition) what it needs to protect, heal, repair, and recover isn’t easy to do if you are a determined athlete, career-driven professional, a relied on caregiver or parent. The art of healing depends on rest and mobility. Patients need to work with their healthcare provider to find a happy medium and the time needed to do so.