The weather is only going to get nicer as we move towards the official start of summer, and many people choose to spend this warm season in or around one of the more than 10,000 lakes Minnesota has to offer. Although the natural resistance caused by water means we’re not moving as quickly or as forcefully as we do on land, the water can still present dangers and lead to injuries if you’re not careful. Below, we look at some of the more common water-related foot and ankle injuries, and how to best treat and prevent them.
Preventing Aquatic Orthopedic Injuries
Here’s a look at a number of water-related foot and ankle injury types, and how to best prevent and treat them:
Propeller Injuries – Perhaps the most devastating injuries are those caused by a boat propeller. Mechanical propeller injuries can cause severe wounds and lacerations depending on where you’re struck. Even if the gash is cared for, the open wound could become infected as it was likely exposed to the lake water at the moment of injury. These are best managed by a surgical care team at a medical facility.
Bites, Stings and Punctures – There’s also the chance that you’ll suffer a small bite or laceration from an animal, rock or glass shard while at the beach. Again, open wounds that are exposed to lake water should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to reduce the risk of bacterial infection. If you begin to notice signs of an infection, head to a medical center for an examination and care plan.
Slip and Fall Fractures – If a swimming pool is more of your scene, be careful near wet and potentially slippery surfaces. Every year we treat patients who have sprained their ankle or worse because they slipped near a pool or hot tub. Assume all areas are slippery, and focus on where you’re walking when you’re near the pool’s edge.
Water Skiing and Tubing Injuries – If your water ski hits an edge or you slam into the water’s surface at high speed, it’s going to feel like you’re hitting hard ground, not the water, and that can lead to bruises and fractures. Maintain safe speeds, always have a spotter, and know your personal limits when skiing and tubing on the lake this summer.
Sunburn – Likely the most preventable of the aforementioned injuries, sunburn can lead to pain and discomfort, and it can increase your risk of skin cancer. Your face and shoulders often the most of the attention when it comes to applying sunscreen, but don’t forget about your legs, ankles and feet!