Under normal circumstances, your feet and ankles are among the hardest-working areas of your body as they propel you through your life. Throw in your favorite athletic pursuit, where you rely on your feet and ankles to jump, pivot, run, and even kick, and their already enormous workload becomes even greater.
Unfortunately, the added stresses of sports can wreak havoc on your feet and ankles, and knowing when to seek medical help can mean the difference between a quick return to your game or a lifelong struggle with improperly treated injuries.
At Wiregrass Podiatry, Dr. Jennifer Decker and our team offer a wide range of services that keep you up and moving on healthy feet. And while we applaud our patients in Enterprise, Alabama, who pursue sports, we also want to ensure the long-term health of their feet and ankles. One of the first steps in safeguarding this health is to know when you should see a podiatrist for a sports injury. Here’s a look.
The common culprits
To get started, let’s review some of the more common foot and ankle injuries in sports. Topping the list are sprained ankles — and a whopping 28,000 people sprain an ankle every day in the United States.
A sprained ankle can occur anytime you’re on your feet, and sports account for only a fraction of the large number we cited above. Still, sprained ankles are one of the leading sports injuries, which makes sense given the ample opportunities for you to twist your ankle or land badly on your feet.
Aside from sprained ankles, other common sports-related injuries include:
- Achilles tendon injuries
- Turf toe
- Stress fractures
- Broken toes
- Shin splints
While by no means comprehensive, this list gives you an idea of the types of injuries your feet and ankles can suffer in sports.
When you’ve been injured
If you’ve been injured on the field, track, court, or wherever you play, your immediate steps are critical. To start, you should apply the RICE method, which is:
If your injury responds well and the pain and inflammation subsides after 24 hours, you may be in the clear. But if you experience the same amount of pain and swelling, or it gets worse, it’s time to come see us, especially if you’re having problems bearing weight.
A developing problem
While acute injuries such as sprained ankles are common, so, too, are stress injuries that develop over time. Stress fractures and problems in your Achilles tendon are prime examples of overuse injuries. These types of injuries make themselves known gradually. Perhaps you have some swelling after you’ve been active or you experience pain with certain movements.
You should heed these small signs because allowing these types of injuries to progress means the damage can pile up. If you come in to see us early on, we can stop, and in most cases, reverse, the progression of the damage before it becomes a more serious and long-term problem.
The cost of avoiding care
While we hate to end using a scare tactic, it’s necessary when it comes to your feet and ankles. No matter what type of sports injury you incur, toughing it out is simply a bad idea. Untreated injuries set you up for early arthritis or problems with instability, and these are much harder issues to treat than your original injury.
If you enjoy being active, take a proactive approach to the health of your feet and ankles to stay in the game for as long as possible.
If you’re at all unsure about whether you need podiatric care for your sports injury, please contact us at (334) 494-8200 or use our online booking tool to set up an appointment.