How We Treat Foot and Ankle Sports Injuries
Every foot or ankle injury deserves prompt attention, but a sports injury often requires additional consideration beyond the problem itself.
When a sports injury impedes your ability to be active and participate in the things you love to do, our goal is always to get you back to full strength both as quickly and as safely as possible. Treating the condition is one thing, but we also want to do all we can to reduce the chances of it coming back again – potentially even worse.
A proper approach to sports injury treatment often requires some patience and temporary adjustment to accommodate your body’s needs for recovery. However, taking the time to do things right the first time will almost always be better in the long run than restarting full activities too soon or – even worse – trying to ignore the problem from the start!
We will be discussing some of the approaches that we take toward treating foot and ankle sports injuries such as Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, sprains, and neuromas.
If there is one key factor we can tell you from the get-go, however, it’s that you should not hold off on receiving the care you need. The sooner you get to the root of your problem and begin treatment, the sooner you can get back to full strength.
Rest is Often Required
We know many athletes do not like to hear this, but it’s a fundamental truth. When the body is injured, it needs to be given the opportunity to heal. That means rest and time.
That said, this rarely means you have to be stuck on the couch the whole time! We can help you build a routine that does not focus on your affected foot or ankle, incorporating alternative exercises and cross-training to keep you moving in the meantime. Depending on the condition, higher-impact activities could be incorporated as recovery progresses.
The object is never to prevent a patient from moving entirely. Staying active within reason can be a big help to both your physical and mental health.
Conditioning Stretches and Exercises
Often, a sports injury can occur (or be more likely to occur) due to an instability or abnormality in foot structure. For example, having tight calf muscles can place more stress on your Achilles tendon or plantar fascia, making either more susceptible to painful aggravation or injury.
Exercises and stretches that focus on these areas, when incorporated into a routine, can help build strength, flexibility, and endurance in supporting structures, reducing the risks of injury and helping already injured areas potentially recover more effectively and efficiently.
In addition to stretching and exercises, problems caused by abnormalities in foot structure and gait can also be addressed via the use of custom orthotics.
Orthotic inserts provide precise amounts of cushioning and corrective support where your feet need them most. Where a condition such as flat feet or overpronation might be straining parts of your feet and ankles, custom orthotics can help redistribute that extra stress away and restore a more natural distribution of forces across the feet.
As an added bonus, the corrective support that custom orthotics can provide to your gait can help improve overall physical performance by facilitating proper form while in motion. Orthotics can also reduce excess energy expenditure that can come from excessive movement, as well as the body having to adjust to that abnormal motion to remain stable.
If the pain from an injury is particularly troublesome, we may administer a cortisone injection to provide a period of longer-lasting relief.
Cortisone injections are not intended to be a long-term solution, and using them extensively is not recommended. Before considering such a treatment, we will review your medical history to ensure any risk of negative effects is very low.
The need for surgery is quite low for the majority of sports injuries. However, for situations that are particularly severe (such as some tendon ruptures), or for those that do not respond well to more conservative methods of treatment, surgery might become a consideration.
Surgery is almost always considered only as a last resort, and typically requires a longer recovery period than more conservative treatments and a need for rehabilitative exercise. If surgery is something we must consider, we will be certain to explain all options available, as well as answer any questions you may have regarding a procedure.
The Best Routes to Recovery and Prevention
Full treatment for most sports injuries is not just about making the pain go away. It’s also about identifying the problems that led to that pain and doing what we can to reduce the chances of them getting in your way again.
We have already discussed measures such as custom orthotics and stretching routines, but additional preventative measures can include changes to your footwear and your overall workout routine as well. The better you shape your approach to being active, the more likely you won’t have sports injuries tripping you up.
It’s impossible to have zero risk for injury, though. If something unfortunate does happen to your feet or ankles, do not hesitate to contact us. Call our Colorado Springs office at (719) 266-5000 to schedule an appointment. We have both in-office and telemedicine appointments available to suit your needs.