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Foot and Ankle Specialist in San Antonio, TX

Work-Related Foot Injury Treatment

Non-compliance with safety regulations can be an issue yet such regulations cannot anticipate all the scenarios that can lead to foot and ankle injuries in the workplace. OSHA has set safety standards with respect to shoe characteristics such as anti-slip soles, sole puncture resistance and toe protection but does not address the basics of shoe or boot constructions as the basics are assumed to be present.  For example, steel toe work boots may protect the toes from crush injuries by light to moderate weight objects but it is the steel shank that protects the heel and arch.  

Shanks are not mandated by any regulation. Steel shanks were invented almost 800 years ago and were present in most work boots until the last 10 years. Outsourcing of work shoes has led to less than ideal shoe construction practices in which the midsole and shank of shoes has been omitted, leading to an “epidemic” of heel and arch pain.

If you’re experiencing foot pain as a result of your work, or you’ve been injured on the job and are in need of foot injury treatment, Dr. Ed Davis can help. As one of the top podiatric workers’ compensation doctors in San Antonio, he is equipped to help you find relief, prevent future pain, and return to work safely following your injury. Click below to request your first appointment with Dr. Davis at South Texas Podiatrist today.


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Top Podiatrist for Work Injuries

Treatment for Work-Related Foot & Ankle Injuries

Along with general pain, there are a number of work-related injuries that commonly affect the ankles and feet. These types of injuries include:

  • Slip and Fall: Slip and fall injuries are often associated with flooring choices, conditions of walking surfaces, foot protection and employee perception of slip hazards. Slippery surfaces due to water or grease are a common concern in the food service industry. Slipping can occur when there is a change in the amount of friction from one surface area to another, that is, friction variations. Slip resistant shoe gear with a focus on rubber compounds that increase friction may not include other safety features such as toe protection or adequate support features such as rigid shanks.   
  • Ankle Sprains: Ankle sprains are one of the most common industrial injuries treated by podiatric specialists and, at times, injuries which lead to significant employee time loss due to potential under-diagnosis and under-treatment at the initial medical exam. The term “sprain” describes a soft tissue injury but, in more common usage, a mechanism of injury. Employees with ankle sprains often need to be evaluated by a specialist so that a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan is instituted early.  Podiatrists have training that includes 4 years of podiatric medical school and up to 3 years of residency training with a focus on diagnosis of such ankle injuries as well as surgical, non-surgical treatment. There are other specialties that treat ankle injuries with a focus on surgical treatment but the comprehensive nature of podiatric training allows an approach that includes rehabilitation, bracing, use of orthotics and other modalities that may avoid surgery and employee time loss.
  • Work Related Diseases: A work related injury occurs after a defined injury occurs at a specific place and time.  A work related disease is something that occurs due to the work environment but may occur gradually over time.  An example of this in the hand is carpal tunnel syndrome which is a repetitive motion or repetitive strain injury.  An example of this in the foot is plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the ligament that supports the foot becomes damaged or inflamed.
  • Stress Fractures: We generally view acute trauma as a reason for foot and ankle fractures, but chronic repetitive strain can cause bones to fatigue and break.  One way to understand the mechanism is to think about a paperclip. Bending a paperclip about 4 times can cause it to break in two. What if I bend a paperclip 3 times and ask you what is wrong with it? It does not appear broken to the naked eye but it is also not normal. A magnifying glass or microscope may show tiny cracks in the metal, so it is actually “broken,” but not broken in two. Stress fracture diagnosis can be delayed at times because stress fractures are generally not visible on x-rays.  Use of sonography (diagnostic ultrasound) provides a means of early diagnosis of metatarsal stress fractures and is a modality we frequently used.  MRI can also reveal stress fractures.  A stress fracture, left untreated, may progress to a “full” fracture or just result in chronic pain

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the qualities of a proper work shoe?

Beyond the mandated requirements of work shoes and boots, the following items are important in footwear selection:

  • Good fit. Due to diversity of sourcing, shoe gear sizing varies significantly. One should not assume that the size that has been appropriate in the past still applies. A good shoe fitter should not only measure the foot but understand how different shoe models and brands vary from their stated sizes. There should be ample toe room and the length of the shoe should be a thumbnail or two fingers longer than the end of the longest toe.
  • Good support. Softness and lightness sell more shoes but support always wins the day. Soft and light shoes always feel better when tried on but may have inadequate support causing fatigue or pain as they are worn for longer periods of time. Shoes or boots should have midsole and rigid shank to provide torsional stability. Lack of torsional stability of shoes can be a major contributor to arch and heel pain as well ankle instability. Steel shanks have existed for over 800 years but only have started to be “missing” in the last decade. Other materials such as graphite and hard plastics may be substituted for steel as a shank material.

Employees should own at least two pairs of work shoes or boots, changing between pairs regularly.
Wear the right shoe gear type for the job. Work on uneven surfaces requires ankle protection via a high top laced boot. Laced boots generally provide better ankle protection than slip on boots or Western style boots. Anti-slip soles needed for wet and greasy floors exist on shoes as well as overshoes.
Removable inlays or insoles are a good feature in shoes and boots as they allow for replacement with more supportive inlays or prescription foot orthotics.

Are there any shoe guidelines that are industry-specific?

Other work specific attributes of footwear may include:  

  • Conductive footwear to prevent the buildup of static electricity.
  • Metatarsal footwear or footwear with metatarsal protectors, which extends the protection of steel toes backward to cover the top of the foot from falling objects.
  • Puncture resistant footwear, in which a steel or Kevlar layer in the sole prevents puncture by sharp objects.
  • Electrical hazard footwear, wherein the sole of the shoe or boot is designed to protect workers from electrical shock.

What are some other common workplace injuries of the feet?

Other common workplace injuries that Dr. Davis and his team frequently see at South Texas Podiatry include:

  • Crushed, broken, or amputated feet: Causes include feet trapped between objects or caught in a crack/crevice, falls of heavy objects, moving vehicles. conveyor belts (feet drawn between belt and roller).
  • Punctures of the sole of the foot: Causes include loose nails, sharp metal or glass objects.
  • Cuts or severed feet or toes, lacerations: Causes include chainsaws, rotary mowers, unguarded machinery.
  • Burns: Causes include molten metal splashes, contact with fire, flammable or explosive atmospheres.
  • Electric shocks: Causes include static electricity, contact with sources of electricity.

How can I get started with the best workers’ compensation podiatrists near me?

If you are looking for the best podiatrist San Antonio has to offer, you’ve come to the right place. If you or someone you love is in need of a foot doctor, visit our office at 109 Gallery Circle, Suite 119, San Antonio, Texas 78258, or call us at (210) 490-3668 to get more information.