Whether you play sports for the thrill of competition, the goal of staying fit or just for the fun of it, injuries can happen! Getting hurt is always a risk when participating in sporting events and other activities no matter how intense or lighthearted they may be. In fact, you could sprain an ankle playing ping pong just as easily as you could by playing football! At McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group, we have seen it all! Here are the most common sports injuries we treat as well as prevention tips to keep you in the game and off the bench.
Sidelining Sports Injuries
- Achilles Tendinitis – even the strongest tendon in your body can suffer from wear and tear over time! Repetitive stress can aggravate your Achilles, causing inflammation and pain in the back of your heel. This may also occur due to sudden activity, like a runner increasing mileage too quickly or a “weekend warrior” jumping into an event without training properly.
- Heel Pain/Plantar Fasciitis – heel pain has many causes, but the most common is plantar fasciitis. This condition occurs when your plantar fascia – a band of tissues spanning your arch – becomes overused, irritated, and inflamed. The band pulls on the heel bone causing pain, especially after periods of rest.
- Ankle Sprains – this is the most common injury no matter if you’re an athlete or simply a pedestrian who steps off the curb the wrong way! It occurs when ligaments stretch beyond their limits and are no longer able to provide stability. There are varying degrees of damage, and if left untreated, sprains can recur and eventually lead to instability.
- Turf Toe – don’t let the name fool you! You don’t have to play on turf for your toe to become overextended. This happens when the toe is planted but the rest of the foot continues moving forward with excessive force. It’s often seen in ball sports, as well as dancers.
- Fractures – With 26 bones in your foot, there are plenty of opportunities for fractures to occur, and a variety of different types! A stress fracture is a crack in the bone due to repetitive stress placed upon it. A Lisfranc fracture is a break that occurs in the joint complex of your midfoot. There are different degrees of bone breaks as well, but the one thing all of these have in common -- prompt treatment is necessary!
- Kids’ Sports Injuries -- sports injuries can happen to young athletes too! In fact, children can sustain all the injuries mentioned above, but the most common problem seen in active kids is Sever’s disease. This happens to kids whose heel bones grow faster than the Achilles tendons attached, which pulls the tendon tight, and in turn pulls on the heel bone causing pain.
Staying in the Game
The key to a winning game plan against sports injuries is never ignoring pain. It’s your body’s way of telling you something is wrong! In the majority of cases, injuries left untreated will only get worse, or cause other, more severe problems. So, play by these rules:
To Get Better Fast:
- Have your injury assessed to determine the damage and an appropriate treatment plan.
- If the injury is minor, RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) will help with pain, inflammation, and healing.
- Take a break from activities –a short amount of time off now beats a bunch of time off later!
- Ice the area in 20 minute increments
- Wrap the injury with an elastic bandage to help keep swelling to a minimum
- Elevate the injury to reduce swelling and pain
- If the injury is serious, seek medical help. You may need a boot or cast, or a surgical procedure for proper healing to take place.
To Avoid Injuries in the First Place:
- Warm up prior to activity and never jump into an event without training.
- Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
- Wear shoes that fit well and provide the specific features your sport requires.
- Invest in orthotics. These fit inside your shoes and correct structural and biomechanical abnormalities that may be making you prone to injury. They can also evenly distribute your weight, redirect pressure away from problem areas, and even help kids!
Hope all this information helps, but if you do end up needing assistance with a sports injury, we are here for you! Give our team in Carmichael, CA a call at (916) 961-3434. We’ll set up an appointment and get you on the road to recovery faster than you can say, “Play ball!”