Sports injuries are a common part of being active. Not only can they result from hard hits and impacts, but also by pushing our bodies too hard too quickly.
But just because sports injuries are common does not mean you should be casual in treating them. The sooner you provide a foot or ankle sports injury the attention it needs, the more likely you will have a fast and complete recovery – and a lower risk of additional problems in the future.
Never hesitate to contact us for sports injury treatment. We understand the needs of athletes at all levels and will help you get back to action as quickly and as safely as possible.
How Sports Injuries Happen
While there are many different types of sports injury that can occur within the feet and ankles, their causes can be divided into two general categories:
- Acute Traumatic Injuries – These are the ones you tend to think of first when you see someone getting carted off the field; the fractures, ankle sprains, and other injuries that can come from a sudden impact or force.
- Overuse Injuries – These injuries occur when the body is overwhelmed with more stress or strain than it is currently conditioned to endure. Overuse injuries can happen relatively quickly (e.g. performing at a high intensity when you’re not prepared to) or develop over a longer period of time (e.g. through repetitive impacts of running or jumping over time).
Common Types of Sports Injuries
Not all sports injuries will feel the same. Some may result in sudden, severe pain, while others may start as a minor, temporary ache that gradually worsens and takes longer to go away.
Pain, stiffness, and other symptoms from a sports injury also don’t always need to be present while you’re in motion. They can also flare up after you have cooled down from an activity, or even the morning after.
Common sports injuries we see and treat include:
- Achilles Tendinitis – Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which often causes pain in the back of or just above the heel.
- Plantar Fasciitis – Aggravation of the thick band of tissue running beneath the foot, often causing pain near the arch.
- Ankle Sprains – An extremely common condition in which the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint become overstretched and/or torn.
- Fractures – These include both acute broken bones as well as hairline “stress fractures” that can occur on the surface of a bone that has been weakened by prolonged strain.
- Neuromas – A painful but non-cancerous thickening of tissue around a nerve in response to repetitive stress. Often occurs at the forefoot and base of the toes.
- Muscles Strains – Painful overuse of a muscle.
This is not an exhaustive list of sports injuries that can occur in the foot or ankle. Each contains many bones, muscles, and other moving parts, so the potential for many different types of injuries is high!
Treating Foot and Ankle Sports Injuries
Regardless of the type of sports injury, you might have, it is very important to never ignore it or try to “push through” your pain or discomfort. Failing to provide yourself with proper care can easily cause an injury to worsen or fail to heal properly. That can lead to higher risks of chronic pain, instability, and reinjury.
Good sports injury treatment starts with you. When you feel pain – especially sudden pain – stop your activity immediately and begin RICE therapy as soon as possible.
RICE stands for:
- Rest. Keep your weight off the affected foot or ankle as often as possible
- Ice. Apply an ice pack for 10-20 minutes, 3 or more times per day. Never apply a source of cold directly to the skin – always wrap it in a thin towel first.
- Compression. Wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage, making sure it is not too tight. (This step can be skipped if you are not confident in wrapping your foot or ankle.)
- Elevation. Keep the injured area at or above the level of your heart whenever you sit or lie down.
RICE therapy in the first 48 hours after an acute injury can significantly reduce pain and swelling and can be helpful for many overuse injuries as well.
But if your symptoms do not substantially improve within a day or two, you have been having trouble for some time, or pain and other problems are severe, contact us right away. We can provide you with further treatment advice or ask you to come in for an evaluation.
If we ask you to come in, we will conduct a thorough examination of your condition, as well as ask you questions about your symptoms, when they appear, and how they are affecting your life. Once we have all the info we need, we can recommend a treatment plan that best meets your personal situation and needs.
Elements of a treatment plan can vary from patient to patient. Parts of a plan might include:
- Medications to relieve pain and swelling, which may include oral medications or corticosteroid injections.
- Continued rest and reduction in activities, to allow more opportunity for healing.
- Changes to footwear that better accommodate the structure of the foot and demands of activities.
- Custom orthotics to provide even more specific cushioning and corrective support, if needed.
These and other conservative forms of treatment are intended not only to provide relief but also to address any issues that may be contributing to a higher risk of sports injuries. We not only want you to recover quickly, but also reduce your chances of another injury down the line.
Surgery rarely needs to be considered for a sports injury, and only tends to be if an injury is particularly severe or does not respond to conservative treatment.
Don’t Delay on Sports Injury Treatment
We know you love to keep moving and that slowing down to treat a sports injury can be frustrating, but taking proper care of your feet and ankles now can help ensure plenty of happier, healthy action in the future.
Schedule an appointment at our Berkeley office by giving us a call or filling out our online contact form.