Sports Medicine
Ankle and Foot Injuries

Athlete has her foot wrapped.

Conditions Treated: Ankle and Foot

Ankle impingement refers to repetitive compression of the bones over the front or back portion of the ankle joint. Ankle impingement, though it can occur in any sport, is most common in sports where ankle sprains are common such as basketball, soccer, football and volleyball.

Ankle Impingement often presents the same symptoms as an ankle sprain, and often needs to be evaluated and diagnosed by a doctor. If your child is unable to bear weight on an injured ankle, has ongoing pain from a previous ankle injury, has significant swelling and bruising in the ankle area, or feels repetitive pain when walking on toes or heels, call the doctor.

Ankle sprains are common. Approximately two million ankle sprains occur each year in the United States.

A sprain is a stretching or tearing injury that is specific to ligaments. In the ankle, the ligaments that are on the outside of the foot are most commonly affected. This occurs during inversion injuries such as “rolling” an ankle.

A sprained ankle will often be painful, swell, and have bruising after a fall or twisting injury. Ankle instability is a chronic condition that results from a partial or complete tear of one of the ankle ligaments that did not heal. If you sprain the same ankle multiple times, you are more likely to have ankle instability.

You should call the doctor for a sprained ankle if your child cannot bear weight on the injured ankle, has ongoing ankle or foot pain after a healed injury, or has significant swelling and bruising in the ankle area.

A fracture in a child can be very different from a fracture in the same location in an adult. If the fracture involves the ends of the bone, the growth plate may be involved.

Most often the fracture is treated with casting.

If you suspect your child has a fracture you should take them to the doctor for treatment. 

Learn more about fractures.

Growth plate injuries occur as a result of acute or repetitive stress to these plates often caused by a fall, twist, or direct blow. Injuries that may cause joint sprains in an adult typically cause growth plate injuries to your child.

Common symptoms of a growth plate injury include pain and discomfort at the end of a bone or near a joint, inability to move or put pressure on the affected area, and warmth and/or swelling near the joint.

If you suspect your child has a growth plate injury, you should see a doctor. 

Sever’s disease generally presents as pain located in the heel or Achilles tendon. It is usually a unilateral (one-sided) injury, but sometimes can occur on both sides at the same time. The pain usually occurs during physical exercise such as running and jumping. Additionally, the pain may cause the child to limp, so you may notice your child walking on their toes to avoid painful heel striking. There may or may not be swelling present.

If your child is limping or changing their walk due to pain, you see swelling on the heels, or the pain is not alleviated by rest, you need to call the doctor for Sever’s disease.

Plantar fasciitis is pain from an injury or irritation to the plantar fascia, a strong band of tissue that runs along the sole of your foot. Significant physical activity using the foot - usually walking, running, dancing, or jumping, cause pain in the plantar fascia. It is almost always caused by using your foot over and over in a specific activity, but it can start with an injury where the foot is hit or stressed suddenly.

Plantar Fasciitis can usually be helped with stretching, rest, and over the counter medication. If the pain persists, gets worse, there is swelling or bruising, or you are unable to bear weight on the foot, you should call the doctor.

A sprain is when one or more ligaments in a joint become torn or stretched beyond its normal limits.

A strain, more commonly called a pulled muscle, is an injury to muscle fibers or tendon due to excessive force and stretching.

Sprains and strains may be caused from falls, direct forces or blows, improper warm-up leading to over stretching tissues, and inadequate rest between sport practices and competitions.

You should call the doctor for a sprain or strain if your child has severe pain and cannot put any weight on the injured joint or move it, the injured area looks different compared to the uninjured side, or has numbness in any part of the injured area.

A tendon is a thick band of tissue that connects muscle to bone. Inflammation or irritation of this thick band of tissue is called tendonitis.

Tendonitis is caused by overuse or improper use of the muscle and tendon. This occurs from doing the same activity repeatedly without enough rest time in between competition or training. Tendonitis can also be caused if an athlete repeatedly uses bad form in an activity.

Tendonitis is treated with rest from the activity that hurts. Ice and anti-inflammatory medication can help alleviate pain and swelling while your child is resting. Formal physical therapy or home exercises may help correct improper form.

Call your child’s doctor if your child has increasing pain, swelling or redness that does not go away with rest.  

Turf toe is a sprain of the big toe. Turf Toe usually occurs suddenly during a motion of running or jumping. Your child will complain of pain in their big toe, difficulty with walking normal (most pain when they are trying to push off), and mild swelling in the big toe joint.

Treatment includes rest, ice, and support by tape or shoe.

Call your child’s doctor if symptoms are not getting better with rest, or the pain and swelling are restricting any walking patterns.

Contact the Division of Sports Medicine

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