Foot & Ankle Sports Injury Care
Make no mistake: we want you to be active. There are a host of reasons why you should engage in regular athletic participation—improved fitness, personal satisfaction, higher quality of life, and more.
Unfortunately, participating in sports also comes with greatly increased risk of injuries. It’s really no surprise, since the amount of force placed on your feet and ankles is magnified greatly when you bound and jump. In fact, running can place up 5x your own body weight worth of force on each foot with every step!
Although many prevention strategies exist to help you minimize your risk, no athlete can protect themselves 100% of the time. Injuries happen, and at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute, our mission is to get you back on your feet so you can get back into the game, at full strength, as quickly as possible.
Sports injuries generally fall into one of two major categories: acute and overuse.
Acute Sports Injuries
Acute injuries are singular events caused by extreme, instantaneous force. They usually require immediate medical attention. Common acute foot & ankle injuries include:
Sprained ankles. The most common sports injury overall, ankle sprains result from tearing or overstretching ligaments that keep your ankle secure. Proper treatment and healing is necessary to avoid chronic problems such as recurring ankle pain or ankle instability.
Bone fractures. Common locations for broken bones include the ankle (where a simultaneous sprain may mask the symptoms of the fracture), toes, midfoot, or even heel.
Achilles tendon rupture. Impact forces can cause the Achilles to pop or tear, often just above the back of the heel. This injury is especially common among middle-aged men playing running and jumping sports on hard surfaces.
Turf toe. This injury is a sprain of the ligaments surrounding the base of the big toe, due to a hyperextension of the digit. True to its name, turf toe is more likely in sports played with cleats on artificial turf, but in truth it can occur in any sport on any surface under the right conditions.
Overuse Sports Injuries
As you might expect, overuse injuries develop over time as a response to repetitive minor trauma or stresses. Many athletes will try to play through the discomfort, but pain that persists beyond a couple of days should be evaluated and treated. The good news is that most overuse injuries require very little medical intervention and often respond well to a simple period of rest. Common overuse injuries include:
Stress fractures. Unlike more serious breaks, stress fractures are hairline cracks in bone that may not even be apparent on basic x-rays. Protection and rest over a period of 4-6 weeks is usually necessary to allow the bones a chance to fully heal.
Shin splints. Tenderness, swelling, and pain in the area of the shinbone is common in runners, dancers, military recruits, or others who have recently changed exercise routines or significantly ramped up the intensity of their workouts.
Tendinitis. This is often used as a “catch-all” term to refer to any chronic damage to tendons, whether due to inflammation, micro-tears in connective tissue, or other issues. Achilles tendinitis is the most well-known variety, but other frequent trouble spots include peroneal tendinitis (outside ankle or midfoot), posterior tibial tendinitis (inside ankle), or anterior tibial tendinitis (front of ankle).
Plantar fasciitis. Perhaps the most common form of heel pain, caused by overstretching and tearing of the plantar fascia, which stretches from your heel to the base of your toes. Pain is usually the worst during periods of activity and also during the early morning, when you take your first steps out of bed.
Treating a Foot or Ankle Sports Injury
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to a sports injury, even among the most common conditions. Every case is different, and the role of the expert is to determine which courses of action will yield the best possible results for your situation. Your age, the severity and location of your injury, the sport you play or the activities you need to accomplish, and any underlying foot issues you may already have (such as bunions, flat feet, high arches, etc.) will play a role in helping us chart a treatment course, whether all you need is a few weeks of rest or whether you could benefit from orthotics, physical therapy, surgery, or other medical strategies.
Whatever your situation, though, rest assured that Dr. Keith McSpadden and his team have the tools and the training to help. We know why you play, and we’re dedicated to getting you back to full strength. To schedule a visit in Cedar Park or Round Rock, TX, please fill out an online appointment request form or call 512-593-2949.