With the weather heating up, summer sports and activities for all ages are in full swing. Both adults and children alike are competing in soccer, softball, baseball, basketball, track and field, volleyball and running.
There is no doubt that these athletes’ feet and ankles are subject to increased stress and are therefore more prone to injury.
The feet and ankle joints bear more pounds per square inch than any other joints in the body. So, whether you are an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, foot and ankle sports injuries are the most common ailments you may experience. While many of these injuries may seem minor at first, they can cause serious long-term effects if not treated appropriately.
Stress fractures, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, foot and ankle sprains and turf toe are just a few common ailments athletes tend to shake off and ignore, but all can cause long-term problems. For example, stress fractures can turn into complete fractures resulting in the need for surgery, while ankle sprains can result in chronic ankle instability and pain.
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Additionally, ankle injuries, often diagnosed as sprains, can be injuries to the ankle joint cartilage itself, resulting in chronic pain and swelling. Achilles tendinitis can result in chronic pain, weakness and even tendon rupture.
More serious injuries such as foot and ankle fractures and dislocations, Achilles tendon ruptures, plantar fascia ruptures and more severe high ankle sprains usually require immediate medical attention. However, it can be the more minor injuries left untreated or misdiagnosed that can cause the more severe long-term problems for patients.
It is not uncommon for athletes to suffer a foot or ankle injury and wait months before they see a foot and ankle specialist. Unfortunately, this delay in treatment can often limit the patient’s options for treatment.
No matter how big or small the injury, it is important that trained athletes or the occasional weekend warriors are seen and evaluated by a qualified foot and ankle specialist in hopes to avoid long-term instability, pain and fatigue.
Dr. Josh Hill, a podiatric surgeon with Baptist Health Medical Group Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, practices at Baptist Health Richmond.