Your feet and ankles absorb the full brunt of your weight when you walk, run, jump, pivot, or engage in almost any kind of athletic activity. It’s not much of a surprise, then, that lower leg issues are among the most common sports injuries.
If you do experience any foot or ankle pain due to running, exercise, or sports, it’s important to get a professional assessment quickly. Many sports injuries won’t get better without treatment, and seeking help early can prevent complications and chronic pain, quicken recovery time, and get you back to doing what you love.
Common Foot and Ankle Sports Injuries
Some of the injuries we treat at our office include:
- Ankle Sprains. Some people underestimate ankle sprains due to how common they are, but you shouldn’t take treatment into your own hands. Without proper treatment, a sprain may not heal correctly, leading to reduced performance and a greater risk of re-injury or even chronic instability.
- Stress Fractures. The constant pounding and impacts of running and jumping can slowly wear out the ability of your arch to absorb shocks, which means those forces get transferred to bones. Eventually, small cracks called stress fractures can emerge.
- Broken Bones. Fractures to the ankles, toes, and metatarsals (among other bones) are common. Stable fractures (which means the bones remain mostly in place) can usually be treated with a cast; bones that are significantly out of alignment may require surgery.
- Shin Splints. Very common in regular runners, shin splints (like stress fractures) develop due to overuse. The term refers to any pain along the inside of the shinbone, or tibia.
- Achilles Tendon Injuries. The Achilles tendon, also known as the heel cord, can become swollen, stiff, and sore due to overuse (tendinitis) or can even tear partially or completely as the result of a forceful impact (Achilles tendon rupture).
- Achilles Tendinitis. Repetitive strain on the Achilles tendon, also known as the heel cord, can make it swollen, stiff, and sore. This is common among runners, especially those who are middle aged and older or are “weekend warriors” who exercise strenuously only on weekends.
- Achilles Tendon Ruptures. The Achilles can also tear or snap, partially or completely, as a result of a traumatic injury. This usually results in sudden, severe pain and an inability to push off with your foot or bend it downward.
Getting the Best Sports Injury Care for Your Feet and Ankles
We take a multi-disciplinary approach to sports medicine, focusing on conservative treatments and avoiding injections or invasive treatments whenever possible. Almost everything can be handled in the office, with no need for hospitalization. This includes an X-ray machine, which we use when necessary to determine an accurate diagnosis.
Many sports injuries can be resolved through a combination of rest and physical therapy. Our staff physical therapist, Michael, is available to walk with you through exercises, stretches, and other strategies like deep tissue and Swedish massage, trigger point work, muscle stimulation, and therapeutic ultrasound to reduce your pain and quicken the pace of recovery and rehabilitation.
We have found that physical therapy offers a very high success rate (90%) for certain conditions, particularly those caused by overuse. Custom orthotics are another highly successful tool for those with an underlying issue with foot structure.
More traumatic injuries, such as Achilles ruptures or broken bones, may require either immobilization and/or surgery to provide the healing you need. We will do everything in our power to see that you get the exact treatment that meets your needs and makes the best sense for your lifestyle. That means no unnecessary tests or referrals, and no pressuring you into surgery or procedures you don’t need.
Don’t Keep Hobbling—Get the Help You Need
Untreated sports injuries tend to linger, get worse, or keep coming back. Rather than hobbling through a nagging injury for months on end, seek help right away. That way, you can recover quickly and return to full strength. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Daniel J. Walters at our podiatry office in Garfield Ridge, Chicago, please call (773) 586-0050.