Sprains, fractures, and tendonitis — an overview
Because the feet carry your entire weight and endure pressure equal to several times your actual weight, they are highly susceptible to injury, particularly when you participate in sports. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, the most common foot and ankle injuries suffered by athletes are sprains and fractures, and the most common overuse injury from athletics is tendonitis. Although anyone can suffer from a sprain, fracture, or tendonitis, basketball players, football players, runners, gymnasts, and dancers are especially prone to these injuries due to the nature of the movements involved in these activities. After athletic injuries, tripping on uneven ground is the next most common causes of foot and ankle sprains and fractures.
Sprains and fractures
A sprain is a soft tissue injury, usually to the ligaments connecting the bones to one another. Usually sprains result from excessive or abnormal pulling, stretching, or tearing of the ligaments. A fracture is a physical break in the bone. Sprains and fractures can both range from minor to serious, and a serious sprain may be difficult to differentiate from a minor fracture without intervention by a trained professional such as a podiatrist.
Tendonitis isn’t an injury in and of itself, but rather a condition that arises from overuse, poor body mechanics, or repeated injury. While sprains primarily relate to ligaments and fractures to bones, tendonitis develops in the tendons — thick bands of tissue that connect muscle to bone.
If you have injured your foot or ankle, you will likely experience pain and swelling. You may also notice bruising, and in some instances of tendonitis, you may experience pain in the calf. In more severe cases, you may experience difficulty walking. If you have obviously suffered from a fracture, seek immediate medical help. If you don’t think you have broken a bone, but the pain is immediate and intense, and you can’t walk at all, seek immediate help as well.
Rest and ice the affected area. Elevate the injured foot and ankle, and apply cold compresses for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, every three to four hours. After 48 hours, if your pain or swelling increase despite rest, ice, and elevation, or you suspect a fracture or you have had improvement but are still significantly sore or swollen after a week, call Kansas City Foot Specialists at 913-338-4440 for evaluation and treatment.
The podiatrists at Kansas City Foot Specialists will examine your foot or ankle, ask you questions about what you were doing when the injury occurred, and may examine your shoes and other factors which may have contributed to your injury.
Depending on your examination, your podiatrist may order tests such as X-rays, ultrasound, or an MRI to determine the extent of your injury. In general, an X-ray is the first diagnostic test as it will show most obvious fractures right away. If your X-ray shows no signs of fracture, an ultrasound or MRI may be used to examine the soft tissues of your foot and ankle (the muscles, tendons, and ligaments), as well as to look for signs of a stress fracture.
Once your podiatrist has determined the type and extent of your injury, you will begin receiving the appropriate treatment. Treatment for fractures, sprains, and tendonotis will typically involve immobilization and may require you to wear a special cast or “boot” or use crutches for a while. Some fractures may require “reduction” in which your podiatrist will need to adjust the parts of the bone to line up properly. If the fracture is significant enough, surgery may be required. In addition to immobilization, your podiatrist may also recommend oral medications to help relieve pain and swelling.
Towards the end of the healing process, your podiatrist may recommend physical therapy to help you learn exercises and stretches to strengthen your feet and ankles, as well as special shoes, orthotics, or other devices to help you recover and minimize risk of reinjury.
Whatever your foot and ankle injury may be, Kansas City Foot Specialists is here to help. We want to help you achieve maximum results in your sport while minimizing further injuries. Call us today at 913-338-4440 to schedule an appointment with one of our highly skilled podiatrists.