Sports injuries can be caused by both direct impact, either with another athlete, a surface like the floor or ground, or a piece of equipment, or they can occur as a result of an indirect impact, like a twisting or torquing motion that can cause injury to the joints, bones and soft tissues. Some of the most common foot and ankle injuries involve repetitive stress, which can be caused by repeatedly striking the ground when running; making quick pivots that strain ligaments, bones and tendons; and injuries that occur as a result of wearing footwear that doesn't fit properly or doesn't provide adequate support.
The feet and ankles comprise dozens of bones, ligaments, tendons, nerves and other tissues, and any of these structures can be injured. Some of the most common types of injuries can be categorized as:
Tendon or ligament injuries
Cuts and abrasions
Bruising, especially to the toenail area and deeper tissues
Fractures and contusions
Younger athletes may also experience damage to the growth plates which, if left untreated, can result in permanent deformities of the foot and ankle.
Diagnosis begins with a thorough physical evaluation of your foot and ankle which may include range-of-motion exercises or passive motion to determine what actions cause symptoms to occur. Depending on your symptoms, diagnostic imaging tests including x-rays may be ordered. Once the cause of your symptoms have been identified, a treatment plan will be developed which may include oral pain medications, injections of corticosteroids to treat inflammation, physical therapy, use of custom orthotics or surgery to help relieve symptoms and correct any underlying damage that can't be corrected using more conservative approaches.
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