Foot Facts for Athletes

From the repeated pounding that runners’ feet receive on paved surfaces to the side-to-side motion seen in court sports, there’s no question that athletes’ feet and ankles are prime candidates for injuries.  Whether you participate in sports regularly or are just a “weekend warrior,” be on the lookout for some of these common problems:

Ankle sprains – These are one of the most common sports injuries. Prompt evaluation and treatment by a foot and ankle surgeon is important… sometimes that “sprain” is actually an ankle fracture and treatment for these two conditions are very different. And don’t skimp on rehab! An ankle that has not been properly healed and strengthened is more likely to suffer repeated sprains, leading to chronic ankle instability.

Achilles tendon disorders – Athletes are at high risk for developing disorders of the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon that runs down the back of the lower leg, can progress into a degeneration of the tendon (Achilles tendonosis). A sudden increase of a repetitive activity, leading to micro-injury of the tendon fibers, can cause these conditions.

Heel pain – This condition is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, although it may also be due to other causes including stress fractures. Although faulty foot structure is the most common cause of plantar fasciitis, it can also result from wearing shoes that are worn out or not designed for the sport in which you’re participating. Keeping the Achilles tendon stretched can help get rid of this pain, but continued pain should be checked out to rule out a fracture or other cause. More information on heel pain can be heard by listening to the Heel Pain podcast.

Morton’s neuroma – Also called “intermetatarsal neuroma,” this is a thickening of nerve tissue in the ball of the foot resulting from compression and irritation of the nerve. Causes include activities that involve repetitive irritation to the ball of the foot, such as running or court sports. Symptoms start gradually and may come and go when the nerve is irritated due to activity. But it’s important to have it treated early on before the damage becomes more severe.