Sports Injuries and Sports Medicine
For people who love to move, healthy feet and ankles are key to their happiness. Whether it’s hiking, running, football, soccer, or a wide variety of other activities, the foundation of your body needs to keep up comfortably.
It can be particularly stressful when a sports injury to the foot or ankle puts that enjoyment in jeopardy. For many, having to skip games or training can feel like a huge step back in their personal goals. Others simply love what they do, and the thought of not being able to do it can be devastating.
For all such sports injuries, our goal at Rainier Foot & Ankle Associates is to address the issue at its source in a manner that gets patients back to doing what they love as quickly and as effectively as possible—but not in ways that will risk re-injury and further setbacks.
A Wide World of Sports Injuries
For a relatively small area of our bodies as a whole, the feet and ankle contain more than one-quarter of our bones, all connected with a multitude of tendons, ligaments, muscles, and other tissues.
All of this allows our feet and ankles to perform in amazing ways, and endure a lot of stress. Unfortunately, it also offers many opportunities for things to go painfully wrong.
Sports injuries, in a very general sense, tend to occur in one of two ways:
- Acute injuries, in which a sudden force or impact causes damage. Sprains, strains, and fractures tend to fall under this category.
Overuse injuries, in which repetitive stresses, over time, create excess force on an area, which eventually results in injury.
Sports-related injuries frequently occur to structures within the foot and ankle, but certain skin and nail conditions can also result due to repetitive stress and friction. Common sports injuries to the foot and ankle include, but are not limited to:
- Stress fractures (i.e. cracks along the surface of the bone)
- Standard fractures (i.e. a full break of the bone)
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis
- Other forms of heel pain
- Shin splints
- Sprains (especially of the ankle)
- Recurring ingrown toenails
- Recurring blisters
- Black toenails
Each type of sports injury can stem from a different source—and sometimes more than one source. To most effectively treat a given condition, we need to get to the root of the problem.
This may involve x-rays, pressure analysis, and other tests, certainly; but it also involves listening to you describe your symptoms, your current activity levels, and how your life is being affected by the injury. Understanding all these factors will help us reach recommendations that will best suit your needs.
How Do We Treat Sports Injuries?
Every patient will require an individualized plan for treatment and recovery from a sports injury. This highly depends on the cause of the problem, the severity of the damage, and factors surrounding the patient’s health and lifestyle.
A treatment plan may involve one or more of the following methods:
- Rest. In the majority of cases, the body will require rest from certain activities to allow injured structures a chance to heal. In the meantime, we can recommend exercises that can keep you active without risking further injury to the area.
- Stretching and exercise regimens. In addition to staying active, specific exercises and stretches can increase strength, flexibility, and range of motion in injured areas.
- Orthotics or bracing. In some cases, excess pressure can be caused by an abnormal foot structure. Orthotics and other devices can help redistribute weight more evenly, relieving this pressure.
- Changes to fitness routines. It is possible to overwork the body past what it is conditioned to take, resulting in injury. A change to routine that places efforts at a more reasonable level or increases intensity more gradually can make a big difference.
- Advanced treatments. EPAT, stem cell injections, and other advanced treatments provided at our office have been a part of sports medicine for years. They can relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and significantly accelerate recovery.
- Surgical repair. If conservative methods do not (or would not) provide effective solutions, then surgery may be considered. We will fully discuss recommended procedures with you, including what to expect before and afterward.
Getting Back to Action
Whatever the cause of your foot or ankle pain, the worst thing you can do is hold off on getting the treatment you need. Even worse is trying to “push through” the pain and continue playing or working out! Risks of further damage and chronic problems are just too high to do that.
We understand how important it is for many people to do the activities they enjoy, and we will do everything in our power to get you back to 100%.