A sport injury is a common problem faced by many. Both competitive and recreational play subject the feet to numerous sources of stress and pressure. From the repetitive pounding the feet receive on paved surfaces to the side-to-side motion seen in court sports, there’s no question that athletes are often prone to foot and ankle injuries.
Whether you participate in sports regularly or are just a “weekend warrior”, you are still susceptible to different types of foot and ankle injuries. Be on the lookout for some of these common problems and learn what causes them.
- Ankle sprains. These are one of the most common sport injuries. A sprain describes the damage done when a ligament is stretched beyond its normal range of motion. Additionally, there may be damage to the muscles and tendons as a result of being pulled or stretched too far.
- Achilles tendon disorder. Athletes are at high risk of developing disorders in 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 tendonosis). A sudden increase of a 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.
- Heel pain. This condition is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, although other things such as Stress Fracture or nerve injuries could be the ones to blame. While a faulty foot structure is the most common cause of plantar fasciitis, there can be other causes including wearing shoes that are worn out or are not designed for the sport you play.
- Morton’s neuroma. Also called “intermetatarsal neuroma”, this is a thickening of nerve tissue in the ball of the foot resulting from compression and irritation of the nerve. One cause includes activities that involve repetitive irritation to the ball of the foot, such as running or court sports.
- Stress fracture. This is an incomplete break in a bone often due to repetitive activity. Stress Fracture tend to occur when you start a new exercise regimen or get back to an old one after taking some 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.
Common symptoms for a foot and ankle injury include pain, which is often sudden and severe. At the same time, swelling and bruising may be seen around the affected area. Your ability to walk or bear weight on the injured joint will also be compromised.
For cases like Morton’s neuroma, 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.
In evaluating a foot and ankle injury resulting from sports activities, the doctor will ask about how the injury occurred and examine the injured area. The physical examination can be a painful procedure as the doctor needs to move the foot to evaluate the pain and swelling in order to make a proper diagnosis.
Some tests may also be required such as x-rays and MRIs. This can also help determine whether there may be other related injuries. With sport injuries, you need to act immediately. Contact a doctor as soon as possible.