Whether you are approaching your teen years, or you are well into adulthood, staying active and healthy is important. And though there are many benefits to participating in sports activities, there is also a good chance that you will experience some type of sports injury.
This is especially true when it comes to the feet and ankles – these lower extremities of the body are known for suffering sports injuries since we primarily rely on them whenever we are out there charging through the field or racing to the finish line. From the repeated impact your feet receive on hard surfaces to the twisting motion of your ankles as you dribble through the court, your feet are prime candidates for trauma.
You should also keep in mind that although many injuries are caused by constant force impact, foot and ankle problems can also develop due to wearing improper footwear. Often times, painful injuries are a result of a combination of both (repeated contact with surfaces and ill-fitting shoes).
Now, some of these injuries may be minor (i.e.: blisters), while others can result in more serious and detrimental outcomes (i.e.: fractures). But, the one common thread amongst the many possible sports injuries you can experience is that they should never be ignored – if you feel pain, address the situation right away.
Common Foot and Ankle Sports Injuries
Though you should expect aches and pains after a friendly game of basketball or a successful run in the local 5K, sometimes discomfort can become much more than just a temporary inconvenience.
Some of the most common sports injuries we treat at our office include:
- Sprains and strains. These are the most common types of sports injuries, and they usually occur when a muscle becomes overused or overstretched. Strains happen when the tendons or muscle fibers are injured, while sprains occur because the ligaments are stretched or torn.
- Toenail injuries. These types of injuries can occur if your shoes are too tight. Sometimes simply wearing shoes while exercising may also cause this problem – especially if you play a sport that involves a lot of quick movements that push your toes against the ends or tops of your shoes.
- Tendon injuries. Painful tendon injuries occur as a result of intense exercise, sprains, trauma and muscle imbalances. They may affect your arch, heel, Achilles tendon, and other parts of your feet and ankles.
- Fractures. Stress fractures are usually caused by overuse – after repetitive jumping and running motions, tiny cracks in the bone begin to develop and may grow overtime when left untreated.
If you ever suspect you have suffered a sports injury (or any other type of injury for that matter), you should immediately stop whatever activity you are engaged in and contact our office as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to properly evaluate your condition, determine a diagnosis and get the most beneficial treatment for your specific situation.
Use the R.I.C.E. Treatment Immediately
There are definitely some steps you can take while you wait at home before we see you in our office for your appointment time. The R.I.C.E. treatment is a tried-and-true treatment method that will help relieve pain and reduce any potential swelling and inflammation.
Here’s how you can get that done:
- Rest. Stop all activities, at least until you are able to come visit us for evaluation. If you still want to stay active, then choose low-impact exercises like swimming.
- Ice. Apply a cold pack alternating for about 20 minutes on then 20 minutes off for the first 72 hours.
- Compression. Wrap the sore area with the firm pressure of a soft elastic material (i.e.: cushioned bandage) to help decrease any swelling and irritation.
- Elevation. Keep the area elevated above heart level to help diminish swelling.
The good news is that, when treated early, foot and ankle pain can be an easy fix. So there is no need to delay medical treatment in fear that you will have to discontinue your favorite activities.
On the other hand, waiting to seek appropriate help definitely won’t solve the problem. In fact, doing so will most likely result in more serious injuries in the future, and these often require more extensive care and treatments, including surgery.
When Should You See a Podiatrist for Your Injury?
If you frequently participate in sports and other physical activities, it is imperative that you pay close attention to your feet and ankles. Yes – ice and rest can be helpful to some extent, but a prompt visit to the podiatrist will ensure that you avoid any further damage to your foot or ankle.
Below are some good indicators that you should come visit our office:
- Black toenails that pull away from the toe.
- Bruising or bleeding at the site of injury.
- Persistent or extreme swelling.
- Persistent or extreme pain.
- Difficulty walking.
And whatever you do, never push through the pain. Instead, seek professional care as soon as you notice something is wrong. When you address the situation early in the game, the easier it will be for you to recover and get back to playing the sports you love.
Find Expert Podiatric Care at Burlington County Foot & Ankle Associates
If you have any questions, or if you suspect that you have sustained a foot or ankle injury, just contact our office at (609) 714-0052. You can also use our handy request form online to have one of our trained staff members reach out to you.