Many of our patients present with foot or ankle injuries. These injuries could be the result of simply tripping on the stairs, stepping on a foreign object while barefoot or from playing their favorite sports activity.
Our podiatry practice, Foot Care Specialists, offers a variety of services for sport-related injuries, such as:
- ATHLETE’S FOOT
- ACHILLES TENDONITIS
- HEEL PAIN – HEEL FISSURES
- MORTON’S NEUROMA
Sometimes people take common injuries for granted, and they may not take them as seriously as they should. Everyone has twisted their ankle at some point. It’s nearly impossible to make it through childhood without doing so. An ankle sprain is more than just a little twist. It can involve serious damage that destabilizes the whole lower limb.
STRETCHED TOO FAR
An ankle sprain is a very common injury. It can happen to anyone of any age or physical ability. The joint is secured by a series of ligaments holding the bones in the correct positions. These connective tissues are mildly elastic—they stretch slightly to accommodate normal joint function, then go back to normal. A sprain occurs when a ligament is suddenly and forcibly overstretched. The tissue isn’t able to return to its normal length, leaving it painfully inflamed and looser than it should be. The whole ankle ends up uncomfortably destabilized.
Typically the pain develops immediately after you twist the joint. The ankle swells and may bruise. You may or may not be able to bear weight on the affected foot. After a mild injury, you may still be able to walk and continue with your activities, which can put you at risk for additional damage. More severe problems, though, may make it nearly impossible to use the limb.
It doesn’t necessarily take much force to sprain an ankle. You could land a step wrong while running, or trip on uneven ground. Athletes exert more force and sudden changes in direction on their lower limbs, so active people are more prone to this kind of injury; however, older and inactive people who have recently increased their mobility also have a high risk.
There are three degrees of sprains. A grade one injury is mild. The ligament was overstretched with some simple damage. A grade two sprain is more serious. The ligament partially tears and the ankle is significantly unstable. Grade three conditions are severe. The connective tissue has ruptured, and the ankle is largely unsupported. You need invested care to treat any degree of ankle injury so it heals correctly and doesn’t develop chronic instability.
TIGHTENING THE LIGAMENT
In general, an ankle sprain is treated using conservative measures to allow the connective tissues to heal. Have the joint examined by a professional, like Marshall L. Lukoff, DPM, to determine its severity and rule out other possible injuries, like fractures. Our expert staff will perform different tests and use diagnostic images to identify the exact problem. Then you can begin the appropriate treatment.
You’ll need to immobilize the foot for a time to allow the ligament to heal. For a mild sprain, this could be a simple as wearing a brace for little while. More severe sprains may require walking boots or non-weight bearing casts to avoid adding pressure to the damaged tissues. Ice the ankle regularly, especially shortly after the injury, to decrease the swelling. Raising your foot as much as possible during the recovery time will help as well. We may recommend anti-inflammatory medications to lower irritation.
As you heal, you may need physical therapy to help re-stabilize and strengthen your joint. In rare cases, your ankle may not respond to the conservative treatments. Then a surgical repairmay be your best option for relief.
An ankle sprain isn’t always taken as seriously as it deserves. Loosening a ligament can lead to chronic ankle instability and discomfort if not handled correctly. Don’t wait until you can hardly walk to seek help for this important joint. Contact Foot Care Specialists, PC in Quincy and Dedham, MA, for an appointment or more information about caring for your lower limbs after an injury.
TENDON INJURY – ACHILLES TENDINITIS
Cables can support an incredible amount of weight or force. Naturally, steel is able to handle more than rope, but sometimes the strongest substances are not what you would expect. In your own body, your personal cable system—your tendons—withstands forces significantly greater than your own body weight to allow you to move and go about your regular activities. Your Achilles tendon is one of these powerful connectors. A problem like Achilles tendinitis, however, can painfully weaken this main mover.
Achilles tendinitis is the uncomfortable overuse and inflammation of your Achilles tendon. Easily one of the strongest connective tissues in the human body, your Achilles connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. This allows you to rise up on your toes and your foot to point downward. It also plays a crucial role in how you push off the ground, which makes walking, running, and jumping possible. However, sudden increases in stress on the tendon, especially if they are repeated, injure it and cause irritation and swelling.
This is a common problem for runners and other athletes, especially when they start a new routine or increase the intensity of their training. Worn out shoes, frequent jumping, and exercising on hard surfaces can also stress the tissue. Usually you feel a mild ache around the back of the ankle which increases with activity and decreases with rest. The tendon may be tender to the touch and feel stiff. The tightening and pulling that occurs can sometimes create a bone spur on the back of the heel bone, which rubs against the connector and may result in additional irritation. Since this is an overuse injury, the condition does not get better on its own—you will need to treat the issue for relief.
RESTORING THE TISSUES
You shouldn’t ignore Achilles tendinitis. The longer your tendon swells and stays irritated, the harder it is to eliminate the problem. Over time, the injury can actually weaken the connector, putting you at risk for ruptures. Specialist Marshall L. Lukoff, DPM, can evaluate your affected foot to determine the extent of the injury. He may request diagnostic images to rule out other possible causes. Once the problem has been identified and confirmed, you can begin targeted treatment.
Since activity is the source of the issue, rest is the most important step in relieving the pain and healing the injury. You’ll need to take a break from your activities and any sports that could strain the Achilles. You’ll need to reduce swelling and inflammation as well. Icing helps with this. Marshall L. Lukoff, DPM may also recommend anti-inflammatory medications. As the tendon recovers, physical therapy can help stretch out any tightness and rebuild the tendon’s strength. Once it has sufficiently recovered, you can recondition it to handle the strain of your activities again.
Achilles tendinitis is easy to develop, but it can interrupt your life and limit your mobility. If you don’t care for it right away, either, it worsens and becomes much harder to deal with later. If you notice pain behind your ankle whenever you try to participate in normal activities, contact Foot Care Specialists, PC to eliminate the issue quickly.