It is quite common for athletes to experience an ankle or foot injury while engaging in their sport. Your feet and ankles are most likely to be injured during athletics due to overuse and repetitive impact.
Different Types of Sports Injuries
Activities that involve running and jumping cause impact to the feet and ankles—making them vulnerable to injuries. Sports such as basketball, football, and soccer are most commonly associated with foot and ankle injuries.
Some different types of sports injuries include:
- Achilles tendonitis. Achilles tendonitis happens when the Achilles tendon is injured or inflamed. It can happen as a single occurrence or can develop over time. A popping sound along with pain in the lower back of the leg are common symptoms of Achilles tendonitis.
- Ankle sprain. A sprain happens when the foot turns out of range and stretches the ligaments that are attached to the bones too far. An ankle sprain makes it difficult to walk or stand and causes severe pain.
- Bone fracture. A direct blow or injury can cause a fracture to the bone. A fracture causes severe pain that is localized to one spot.
- Heel spur. Heel spurs are common in athletes who jump and run and are caused by pressure on the heel area. This results in excessive growth of the heel area and creates a bony protrusion under the heel. A heel spur causes pain and swelling around the heel area and can be warm to the touch.
- Neuroma. A neuroma is a benign growth of nerve tissue that occurs when the nerves are irritated from the tissue surrounding it rubbing against the nerve. It can be caused by wearing improper footwear that creates additional pressure and results in intense pain, swelling, numbness, and tingling in the toes and forefoot.
- Peroneal tendonitis. When the peroneal tendon gets inflamed due to overuse, friction occurs between the bones and tendons resulting in peroneal tendonitis. Peroneal tendonitis causes pain and swelling in the back of the ankle that worsens during activity but improves with rest. It can also cause warmth and instability in the ankle area.
- Plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis occurs from overuse and happens when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed. The plantar fascia is the thick band of tissue that runs across your foot and connects the toes to the heel. Plantar fasciitis causes pain in the heel of your foot that worsens when standing.
- Shin splints. Common in runners, shin splints cause pain and tenderness along the inner side of the shin bone of the leg and are a result of increased activity.
- Stress fracture. Tiny cracks can happen to the surface of the bones of the feet due to repetitive pressure. A stress fracture causes pain and swelling in the lower leg.
- Turf toe. Turf toe happens when the big toe is bent backward too far and sprains the ligaments of the toe. It causes pain, tenderness, and swelling in the big toe and ball of the foot.
To determine the type of injury you are experiencing, seek the advice of a knowledgeable podiatrist. Your podiatrist will examine your feet and ankles and may order an imaging test to confirm the diagnosis.
If you have a sports-related foot injury, there are many treatment options available. Most injuries can be treated at home and do not require surgery. Treatment depends on the type of injury you are experiencing. Your podiatrist will evaluate your injury and determine the best treatment for your personal needs.
Some patients are successful with conservative treatments that reduce swelling and pain. Some common sports injury treatments are:
- RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
- Brace or support
- Physical therapy
- Laser-based therapy
Tips for Preventing Sports Injuries
Some sports injuries cannot be prevented and happen suddenly. There are some tips to follow to help prevent injuries while playing sports such as:
- Warm-up and cool down before activity
- Stretch properly before activities to prevent straining the muscles
- Wear proper sports gear and correct footwear for the sport you are engaging in
- Allow yourself to rest and never play when injured
Get Help From Your Podiatrist
Do you need a podiatrist to help you understand your sports injury? Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry can help. We can provide a free initial consultation and create a customized plan to get you back on your feet as soon as possible. To set up an appointment, fill out our contact form online or call us at (301) 515-FEET.