Whenever you suit up for your favorite sport, you’re already equipped with your most important gear—your feet and ankles. Indeed, there are few activities that don’t involve our lower extremities, which is why they frequently sustain injuries.
Because physical activity is so important to overall health, nobody wants to stay sidelined for long. Although many people may be tempted to “walk it off” or just rest for a few days, a foot or ankle injury can have serious, long-term implications if not properly diagnosed and treated.
Competitive athletes and weekend warriors alike can rely on the podiatric surgeons at MedStar Washington Hospital Center to provide expert assessment of their foot and ankle issues, and help craft a plan of treatment that will put them back in the game as quickly and safely as possible.
Common Sports Injuries and Treatments
Though most active people have experienced a sprained ankle, the actual nature of the injury can vary. That’s because the ankle joint consists of both lateral and medial ligaments that connect the bone to surrounding muscle. Stretching or tearing any of these can result in minor soreness and swelling, to extensive swelling with pain and difficulty walking.
Ice and over-the-counter medication can help alleviate some symptoms, but the ankle should be examined to determine the full extent of the damage and the appropriate treatment options to ensure a full recovery. Surgery may be required to repair the ligaments.
Chronic Lateral Ankle Instability
Frequent ankle sprains may be due to more than just bad luck. They can have a cumulative effect that makes the ankle more susceptible to problems such as chronic swelling, pain or tenderness, and additional sprains. Patients often report that their ankles feel “wobbly” and give way more easily.
Treating chronic instability can include physical therapy, bracing, and medication. If ligaments have been seriously damaged, surgery may be needed. A prescribed program of physical therapy can also help strengthen foot and ankle muscles, and help patients develop a stronger sense of balance.
Peroneal Tendon Injuries
Ankle sprains would be even more common if it weren’t for the peroneal tendon. Located behind the outer ankle bone, these tendons provide the necessary stability to safeguard the ankle in everyday situations. But they aren’t invincible; an injury or mispositioning as a result of a sprain can result in pain or a “snapping” feeling around the joint, swelling, and weakness in the foot and ankle.
Damaged peroneal tendons require early diagnosis and treatment to ensure a full recovery, and prevent changes in the foot that are difficult to correct. Treatment includes splinting or casting, bracing, medication, and medication administered either orally or by injection. Surgery may also be necessary in certain cases.
Achilles Tendon Tears
Connecting the calf muscle to the heel bone, the Achilles tendon is what makes it possible for us to run, jump, and pivot during high-impact activities. Though highly versatile, the tendon can be stretched beyond its limits, resulting in a partial or complete tear that is both painful and debilitating.
Though wearing a cast, walking boot, or brace can help a mild Achilles injury heal on its own, the patient may remain vulnerable to a subsequent, potentially more serious injury. Surgery may not only reduce the likelihood of reinjury, but also help improve muscle function and movement.
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