Professional Athletes’ Broken Ankles Capture Headlines in Early 2015

Professional Athletes’ Broken Ankles Capture Headlines in Early 2015In early 2015, a number of professional athletes were temporarily put out of commission thanks to broken ankles. Among them were University of Kentucky’s Janee Thompson and Los Angeles Kings’ Tanner Pearson.

Thompson reportedly broke her tibia and Pearson, as it later turned out, actually broke his fibula. Both are two of the three bones that make up the top ankle joint. The other is the talus. It should also be mentioned that there is another joint in the foot that connects the ankle bone to the heel bone. It’s called the subtalar joint but apparently neither athlete broke that one this time around.

When the tibia, fibula or talus breaks, it can be quite traumatic for athletes and everyday Joes alike. In most cases, swelling and severe pain are immediately present and the injured person can no longer stand up without assistance. As time goes on, bruising is also likely to appear on and around the broken bones. After the injury, it is extremely important that the accident victim’s broken ankle is examined and repaired. Otherwise, the deformities could become permanent, thereby rendering the person disabled.

Furthermore, if the person who sustains the broken ankle hasn’t finished growing yet (e.g. child), he or she will need to be closely monitored for bone or joint weakness and deformities long after the initial injury has been treated. The extended monitoring period is crucial to ensure that the broken ankle doesn’t interfere with the leg and foot bones’ normal growth as time goes on. In most instances, the extended period will last at least two years, maybe more depending on the individual’s normal growth rate and unique circumstances.

The severity of the injury will dictate which treatment methods are used. Options often include, but are not limited to emergency surgery, casting and post-surgery rehabilitation. Depending on the situation, full recovery from broken ankles may take two months or more. As such, the two athletes that we mentioned earlier are likely to be off of their respective courts for at least part or all of a full season. To speak with a Boston podiatrist about broken ankles and best practices to ensure the bones heal properly, please click here.

Dealing with Foot Fractures

Treatment for Foot FracturesAccording to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, foot fractures are small cracks in the bone. The cause is usually overuse in high impact sports such as tennis, track and field, gymnastics, dance, and basketball. Muscles can become overtired and rendered less capable of cushioning shocks, transferring the stress to the bones. Hence, a stress fracture can result. Lack of conditioning, improper sports equipment, bad technique, and bone insufficiency such as caused by osteoposis can increase the possibility of a stress fracture.

The fracture can manifest itself by pain, inflammation, swelling, and tenderness. The pain especially can be felt when doing weight bearing activities.

If you suspect that you have a stress fracture in the foot or ankle, stop vigorous physical activity and perform first aid, such as applying an ice pack, even before seeing a Boston foot doctor. Otherwise, the fracture can become a complete break.

The podiatrist will take your medical history and perform a physical examination. He or she might also take an X-Ray or a bone scan to confirm the diagnosis.

Depending on the location and the severity of the fracture, the doctor will recommend keeping off your feet or switching to less stressful exercises like swimming and bicycling. Your podiatrist may advise you to wear protective footwear or even, in some cases, a cast. In more severe cases, surgery may be indicated. The doctor will also advise on any diet and lifestyle changes you might want to do in order to avoid further fractures. Once the pain is gone and the fracture healed, your foot doctor will advise you to return gradually to your previous exercise regime.

5 Tips for Preventing Foot and Ankle Injuries/Fractures

Treatment for Foot FracturesFoot and ankle injuries, particularly stress fractures, are an unfortunately all-too-common side effect in many runners, athletes, and sports enthusiasts alike. Soccer and tennis players, as well as track and field participants are among the many people who need to adhere to strict training routines in order to avoid any lengthy and nagging problems from occurring. What follows are five simple tips and precautions we can all take if we enjoy any of these activities, to avoid foot fractures and other foot and ankle problems:

  • Two Minute Warming – Warm up your muscles by stretching or jogging slowly for at least two to three minutes before any sports related activity. Be careful not to perform any bouncing motions when stretching, whereas this can actually cause injury.
  • If you Build Them, They Will Come – Gradually build your muscles by properly conditioning them. This conditioning can be done by slowly increasing your workout or activity over the period of several weeks at the time.
  • If the Shoe Fits, Wear It – Always take the time and effort to research and buy properly fitting, supportive, and comfortable shoes. It can also help to buy the appropriate shoe for the corresponding activity, e.g., tennis shoes for tennis, golf shoes for golf, etc. Cross-trainers are a great all-purpose solution, but specialized shoes are usually best. Replacing shoes regularly is a good idea as well. Active runners and other athletes should replace shoes every six months at least, maybe even more often.
  • Watch Your Step – If you’re a trail runner, be wary of stumps, rocks, and other uneven ground. These are big problems and typical causes of foot fractures and ankle injuries among runners. Also, pick a soft surface like dirt when possible for running. Otherwise asphalt is actually a bit softer than concrete. The softer the surface you run on, the less shock impact that your lower legs will have to absorb.
  • Pay Attention – If you start experiencing pain during your athletic activity, temporarily stop the activity while you recover. When you feel an appropriate amount of time for healing has elapsed, begin your activity again slowly and pay attention to what your body is telling you regarding any sort of potential injury, in the form of recurring pain or discomfort.

These are just a few precautions that can be taken to continue to do some of the healthy things that you love best as an active individual. Perhaps the Cardinal Rule, however, is to use common sense. Do pay particular attention to what your body is telling you. This will avoid any extended periods of forced inactivity due to long-lasting and bothersome foot or ankle injuries. And remember…if you suffer a foot or ankle injury call your Boston podiatrists to schedule an office visit.

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