Of all the sports injuries and conditions, injuries to the foot and ankle are among the most debilitating. The foot and ankle are complex structures that balance and support the weight of the body while providing mobility. Foot and ankle injuries like sprains are common in active, athletic individuals engaged in sports activities like basketball, soccer, hockey, cricket and running. Pain felt in the foot or ankle may be a minor or temporary concern, but chronic or intense discomfort is a sign of a more serious condition that will require treatment. Orthopedic services in Brooklyn based healthcare centers focus on easing pain and helping patients recover from the injury quickly and return to their previous level of activity.
Reports suggest that foot and ankle injuries accounts for more than 3 million emergency department visits annually in the United States (2017 statistics). Common symptoms of include swelling, tenderness, stiffness, or bruising in the affected area, as well as difficulty standing or walking. Foot and ankle injuries can be acute and caused by single events like a sports injury, or can develop over time from repetitive motion or overuse. Preventing different types of foot and ankle injuries requires a combination of proper warm-up, conditioning and careful attention to other techniques.
Here are the common foot and ankle injuries treated in multispecialty healthcare centers:
- Achilles Tendonitis – An overuse injury of the Achilles tendon (the band of tissue that connects calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone), tendonitis is more common among runners who have suddenly increased the intensity or duration of their activity. This injury can also occur in middle-aged people who play sports such as tennis or basketball. Pain that begins as a mild ache in the back of the leg or above the heel (after running or other sports activity) is a common symptom of the condition. Mild cases of Achilles tendinitis can be treated with simple, self-care measures. More-serious cases involving tendon tears (ruptures) may require surgical repair.
- Ankle sprain – This is an injury that occurs when you roll, twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the tough bands of tissue (ligaments) that help hold your ankle bones together. Symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness, bruising, inability to put weight on the affected ankle and skin discoloration. Treatment for sprained ankle includes home-care measures (like wearing braces, wrapping the ankle with ACE bandage, using crutches) and taking medications (such as ibuprofen (such as Advil) or acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) to manage pain.
- Plantar fasciitis – Plantar fasciitis causes stabbing heel pain that usually occurs with your first steps in the morning. The condition is more common among runners. In addition, people who are overweight and those who wear shoes with inadequate support have an increased risk of suffering this condition. Most people who suffer from plantar fasciitis tend to recover with conservative treatments, including medication, resting, icing the painful area, and stretching. Doing physical therapy exercises can help ease the pain and inflammation.
- Athlete’s foot – A fungal infection that begins between the toes, athlete’s foot commonly occurs in people whose feet have become very sweaty while confined within tight fitting shoes. Symptoms usually include a scaly red rash which typically begins between the toes.
- Stress fractures – A stress fracture is an over-use injury that occurs when the muscles become fatigued and unable to absorb added shock. It is more common in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot. There may not be any pain during the initial days of fracture. However, as the condition progresses, there will be tenderness and swelling in specific spot which decreases with adequate rest.
- Shin splints – Shin splints refer to pain along the shin bone (tibia – the large bone in the front of your lower leg). The condition often occurs in athletes who have recently intensified or changed their exercise or training routines. Associated symptoms include tenderness or pain along the inner side of the shinbone and mild swelling in the lower leg. Most cases of shin splints can be effectively treated with rest, ice and other self-care measures. In addition, wearing proper footwear and modifying your exercise routine can help prevent shin splints from recurring.
- Hammertoe – A hammertoe is an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe. Although this foot deformity can affect any toe, it most commonly affects the second or third one. Common causes of this foot deformity include traumatic toe injury, arthritis, an unusually high foot arch, wearing shoes that don’t fit properly and tightened ligaments or tendons in the foot.
- Turf toe – Common in football players, turf toe is a sprain of the ligaments surrounding the big toe. It is caused by a hyperextension of the toe, or bending back of the toe beyond the point of normal movement. Injury can occur from a sudden, forceful movement or repeated hyperextensions over a period of time. Typical symptoms include pain, swelling and limited movement of the big toe.
Diagnosing and Treating Foot and Ankle Injuries
Diagnosis of foot and ankle injuries will begin with a detailed physical examination to assess the specific type of injury and to check how the injury has affected your range of motion. Imaging tests like X-rays, Computerized tomography (CT) and Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be recommended to check for fracture. Reliable pain management and rehabilitation centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer effective treatment for foot and ankle injuries using various non-surgical modalities such as physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, TENS, pain medications, Ice and heat application, and Foot Levelers Orthotics.
Physical therapy and rehabilitation includes therapeutic exercise programs such as stretching, strengthening and isometric exercises that can reduce stress on the joint and return it to its pre-injury state. Chiropractic treatment can help restore the normal alignment of the joints, improve flexibility, and reduce inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin may be used to alleviate pain and swelling. In addition, Foot Levelers Orthotics involves custom orthotic soles (that can be slipped into any closed footwear) to improve strength, provide proper balance to the feet, and alleviate pain. If the above non-surgical modalities do not provide adequate pain relief, surgery will be recommended for severe injuries of the foot and ankle.
Recovery time for foot and ankle injuries varies depending on the type of injury. Taking proper rest and avoiding activities that may stress the injured area is crucial for recovery. Wrapping the injured area with a bandage or using brace is a good way to provide consistent compression to the injured area and stabilize the joint.
An important way to prevent sports-related foot injuries is to wear the correct athletic shoes with the proper fit.