Sports Injuries

Sports and sports training can cause injuries to the feet due to impact, sudden movements, repetitive motions, overuse, and constrictive footwear.

Running, walking, and impact aerobic exercise or activities can be particularly jarring to the feet. Aerobic impacts can result in forces of up to six times the force of gravity; these impacts commonly cause injury and trauma to bones in the feet and ankles. Wearing the proper sneakers is a top precaution to guard against foot and ankle injuries. Sneakers should fit properly, minimize lateral instability, and have cushion and support to absorb shock and reduce pressure. Stretching prior to and after activity is also key to keeping injuries at bay.

Sports such as baseball, football, soccer, field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse frequently involve tough competition on hard surfaces or artificial fields. Participating athletes all too often wear improper sneakers or cleats and do not stretch nearly enough before and after games, practices, and workouts. These conditions can lead to foot and ankle injuries.

The motions of martial arts and kickboxing can cause conditions such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, sesamoiditis, and ankle sprains, all of which can be minimized by proper stretching for at least 15 minutes prior to starting activity.

 

Shin Splints

Shin splints, a common condition, happen when the muscles or tendons surrounding the leg bone become inflamed, irritated, and painful, which can result from overuse, a collapsing arch, stress fractures in the lower leg bones, or imbalance between opposite leg muscle groups. They frequently occur in runners and dancers.

Shin splints can be treated with rest, ice, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications (ask your doctor first).

Shin splints can be prevented by properly stretching prior to and after exercise, sports, or activity. Corrective shoes or corrective orthotics can also be used to prevent shin splints.

Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction

The posterior tibial tendon is an important leg tendon that attaches the calf muscle to the inside foot bones, keeping the arch in its position and providing support when walking. The tendon commonly becomes torn or inflamed due to overuse, high-impact sports, and falls, which can result in flatfoot, instability, and decreased arch support over time.

Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction causes symptoms such as pain that increases with activity and generally occurs at the tendon’s location, swelling along the tendon, difficulty bearing weight on the foot and ankle, and outer ankle pain as the foot collapses. Treatment includes rest with no high-impact exercise or sports, ice, anti-inflammatory medication (check with a doctor before taking any medication), immobilization through a cast or walking boot, orthotic shoe inserts that help position the foot and accommodate foot shape changes, braces, physical therapy, and cortisone shots. Surgery may be necessary for reconstruction if the above treatments do not alleviate the symptoms and pain after an extended period of time.

Peroneal Tendon Injury

Peroneal tendons are also known as stirrup tendons because they run parallel along the outer ankle bone, attaching to the inside and outside of the foot near the arch. Their function is to stabilize the ankle and foot.

Injury to the peroneal tendons can occur suddenly during sports such as football, basketball, and soccer, or they can develop over time. The tendons can tear, become inflamed (tendonitis), or suffer from subluxation (moving from normal position). Signs to look for are swelling, pain, instability of the ankle, and feeling as if the tendon has snapped. The area may also be warm when touched. The pain may be constant or intermittent, and it can be greater at the back of the ankle bone where the tendons run.

Immediate and proper treatment is necessary to avoid tearing or further damage. The injured area must be immobilized, and crutches may be used to keep weight off of the affected ankle. Anti-inflammatory medications and ice can decrease swelling (consult your doctor before taking any medication). In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the tendons. Physical therapy can help restore motion and strength after the injury is healed.

Osteochondromas

Osteochondromas occur underneath the toenail when benign bone tumors form in that area, typically after injury. Most common in children and young adults, osteochondromas account for approximately 50% of all benign bone tumors.

Most of the time, osteochondromas do not cause pain; however, discomfort can result if they irritate surrounding tissue. If osteochondromas deform the toenail or cause it to become ingrown, they can be surgically removed. Osteochondromas can become a recurring condition.

Osteochondritis

Osteochondritis is stiffness, swelling, and pain in the ankle joint due to lesions or fractures that form on the joint surface as a result of previous twisted-ankle injuries. Osteochondritis can affect persons of any age.

Symptoms of osteochondritis resemble those of an ankle sprain, such as swelling, pain, and a difficult time putting weight on the affected area

Osteochondritis treatment begins with X-rays to check for joint surface fractures and to distinguish the injury from a sprain. The foot and ankle should be immobilized to allow the joint to rest and heal. Surgery may be necessary to treat severe cases to remove cartilage and bone fragments from the ankle joint area, stimulate new blood vessels, and promote scar tissue that will fill in the damaged areas

 

Fractures

There are many bones in the human foot, some of which are very small. In fact, almost 25% of the body’s bones are housed in the feet. Thankfully, a fractured, or broken toe or forefoot bone is usually not serious or disabling. However, foot bone fractures are still painful and require proper diagnoses and treatment.

Bones are susceptible to two kinds of fractures: stress and general. Stress fractures are small fissures or cracks in the surface of the bone and usually occur in the forefoot, or the area from the mid-foot extending to the toes. General fractures travel into the bone beyond its surface and can be stable or displaced, as well as closed or open. Displaced fractures occur when bone ends no longer stay in proper alignment with one another. With an open fracture, the broken bone pierces through the skin.

The fifth metatarsal, or pinky toe, is vulnerable to several types of different fractures. Ankle-twisting injuries can cause avulsion fractures; with this, the tendon that attaches to the fifth metatarsal bone tears, pulling away a tiny piece of the bone. A Jones fracture is a more serious injury occurring at the base of the fifth metatarsal, which can restrict blood flow in this area that already receives less blood flow due to its location on the foot.

What Are Some Causes of Fractures?

  • Stress fractures from sudden exercise increases or overuse
  • Jarring jumps or falls
  • Accidents causing hard blows or impacts to the foot
  • Falling objects that crush bones in the foot
  • Twisting hard enough to cause the bones to snap or break

What Are Symptoms of a Fracture?

  • Swelling
  • Bruising of the injured area
  • Pain
  • Tenderness and sensitivity to touch
  • Difficulty walking or putting weight on the foot

How Is a Fracture Treated?

  • Apply ice to the area and elevate the affected lower leg to lessen swelling
  • Wear a compression wrap, stiff orthopedic shoe, or walking boot to immobilize and protect the foot
  • Keep weight off the foot and rest it as much as possible

Broken Ankle

A broken ankle occurs when one or more of the three bones that make up the ankle is fractured. Aside from a broken bone, a patient diagnosed with a broken ankle might also suffer from injuries to the connecting tissues or ligaments in the ankle, as well as the two ankle joints. Since ankle sprains and other ankle injuries have causes and symptoms similar to those of a broken ankle, it is important to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment of an ankle injury.

What Are Some Causes of a Broken Ankle?

  • Sports-related injury to the ankle
  • Falls and trips
  • Sudden twisting or rolling of the ankle
  • Car accident

What Are Symptoms of a Broken Ankle?

  • Swelling
  • Bruising of the ankle area
  • Acute, severe pain immediately at the onset of the injury
  • Tenderness and sensitivity to touch, along with an inability to endure weight on the ankle
  • Ankle deformity if the injury involves dislocation

How Is a Broken Ankle Treated?

  • Apply ice to the ankle area and elevate the affected lower leg to lessen swelling
  • Wear a leg cast or brace if the ankle is stable and no bones are out of place
  • Undergo surgery if the ankle is unstable, has torn ligaments,is dislocated, or has fragmented, loose bone
  • Healing is monitored by X-rays to check progress and to avoid complications
  • After the bone repairs, physical therapy, braces, and supports are part of continued treatment until the ankle is fully healed

 

Ankle Sprain Injuries

When the ankle bones twist or receive too much force, the ligaments surrounding the outside of the bones may suffer from over-stretching or tearing, resulting in a painful ankle sprain. There are different levels of severity when it comes to ankle sprains, and if the sprain is not properly diagnosed and treated, it can cause permanent, lasting ankle trouble.

What Are Symptoms of an Ankle Sprain Injury?

  • Swelling after twisting or injuring the ankle area
  • Bruising of the ankle area
  • Pain in the lower leg

How Is an Ankle Sprain Injury Treated?

  • Apply ice to the ankle area and elevate the affected lower leg to lessen swelling
  • Rest the ankle from activity, exercise, and even walking
  • Limit motion and support the injured ankle by wrapping it with compression bandages
  • If the sprain involves severe twisting or tearing of the ligaments, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage and tighten the over-stretched ligaments

How Can Ankle Sprain Injuries Be Prevented?

  • Wear properly fitting, supportive footwear and sneakers, especially during exercise and sports
  • Protect weak ankles from sprains and re-injuries with appropriate ankle braces and supports
  • Keep the ankle muscles strong and flexible through regularly exercising and stretching them as well as the surrounding muscles