From the repeated pounding that runners’ feet receive on paved surfaces to the side-to-side motion seen in court sports, there’s no question that athletes’ feet and ankles are prime candidates for injuries. Our comprehensive list of sports indicates the types of injuries that may occur in the sport you play. Whether you participate in sports regularly or are just a “weekend warrior,” be on the lookout for some of these common conditions.
Sports Injuries We Treat
This is an incomplete break in a bone often due to repetitive activity on a bone. Stress fractures tend to occur when you start a new exercise regimen or get back to an old one after taking time off. Many factors such as the frequency and duration of the activity, faulty foot structure, poor footwear, and type of surface can contribute to the development of a stress fracture. Pain, bruising and redness can all present when this occurs, and rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) protocol should be started followed by a visit to your local foot and ankle surgeon.
This condition is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, although other things, such as stress fractures or nerve injuries, can be to blame. While faulty foot structure is the most common cause of plantar fasciitis, it can also result from wearing shoes that are worn out or are not designed for the sport in which you’re participating. Proper stretching of the Achilles tendon stretched can help get rid of this pain, but continued pain should be checked out to rule out a fracture or other cause.
Achilles Tendon Disorders
Athletes are at high risk for developing disorders of the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon that runs down the back of the lower leg, can progress into a degeneration of the tendon (Achilles tendonitis). A sudden increase in repetitive activity, leading to micro-injury of the tendon fibers, can cause these conditions. In addition to repetitive trauma, high-impact sports, such as basketball, can lead to tears and even ruptures of the Achilles tendon. These conditions should be followed by a foot and ankle surgeon.
Forceful jumping or pivoting, or sudden accelerations of running, can overstretch the tendon and cause a tear. An injury to the tendon can also result from falling or tripping. Achilles tendon ruptures are most often seen in “weekend warriors”—typically, middle-aged people participating in sports in their spare time. Severe pain is the first and most evident symptom of a tendon rupture. You may also hear a snapping or popping sound at the time of injury. Another common, immediate sign of a tendon rupture is rapid bruising at the site of injury.
“Turf toe” is the common term used to describe a sprain of the ligaments around the big toe joint. It’s a condition that’s caused by jamming the big toe or repeatedly pushing off the big toe forcefully as in running and jumping. The most common symptoms of turf toe include pain, swelling, and limited joint movement at the base of one big toe. Turf toe usually gets better with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers. Severe turf toe injuries may need surgery.
Lisfranc Sprains & Fractures
Lisfranc (midfoot) injuries result if bones in the midfoot are broken or ligaments that support the midfoot are torn. The severity of a Lisfranc injury can vary widely — from a simple injury involving one midfoot joint to a complex injury involving many midfoot joints and broken bones. A Lisfranc sprain is characterized by pain in the middle of the foot, abnormal swelling, and the inability to put weight on the injured foot.
A metatarsal fracture occurs when one of the long bones of the midfoot is cracked or broken. This may be due to sudden injury (an acute fracture), or due to repeated stress (stress fracture).
If you have experienced a metatarsal fracture, however, you’re definitely going to be off your feet for a while. Many athletes can’t wait to get moving again, but it’s best to do so after a careful rehabilitation plan.
Ankle Sprains & Fractures
These are one of the most common sports injuries. Prompt evaluation and treatment by a foot and ankle surgeon are important because sometimes that “sprain” is actually an ankle fracture, and treatment for these two conditions is very different. A critical component of recovery is proper rehabilitation. An ankle that has not been properly healed and strengthened is more likely to suffer repeated sprains, leading to chronic ankle instability.
Tight fitting, narrow running shoes or cleats can place excessive pressure on the ball of foot, which can thicken the nerve tissue from compression. Causes include activities that involve repetitive irritation to the ball of the foot, such as running or court sports. Symptoms start gradually and may come and go when the nerve is irritated due to activity. It is important to have it treated early on before the damage becomes more severe.
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