Sunday, September 13, 2015

The top 4 foot and ankle injuries we see in our youth soccer players

Top 4 foot and ankle injuries we see in our youth soccer players:

Week one of our youth soccer season is done in the Central Florida area and we have already seen several young athletes for these top 4 foot and ankle injuries in our office the Center for Ankle and Foot Care.  Our daughter is very excited to be back into the swing of things with her soccer team.  She maybe playing with even more heart than ever before after this past summer's USA Women's National Team win of the World Cup!  

With great coaching and a good supportive team, many injuries can be avoided.  Coaches and parents who focus on conditioning the children before the season really starts can help the children stay injury free.  But sometimes many injuries can happen even with the best preseason preparation.  

Shin Splints

First of all, you might be asking yourself "Self, what is a shin splint?" I will explain.  The most common type of shin splint is inflammation on the front of the lower leg.  The culprit is usually from the repetitive micro-trauma that occurs when one is running on a consistent basis. The anterior tibialis muscle belly becomes strained and starts to pull on the tibia bone causing the most common anterior shin splint.  The inflammation occurs on the bone and on the attachment of the muscle to the bone.  The repeated stress, can over time lead to stress fracture of the tibia if ignored and not addressed. 

How you get shin splints becomes an important question as well. If you want to treat and avoid getting this problem again, you have to understand the root cause.  Some people get shin splints from a very simple culprit, shoe gear. If you have ever played soccer, you may know that soccer cleats are notorious for being a flat insole with very little support. This may be a by product of many cultures playing this sport with out shoes on growing up, once we put the cleat on we still want "touch" on the ball. We tend to see this injury the most when kids are practicing on harder than normal surfaces or as the weather gets cooler and the ground gets harder.

Ankle Sprain  
It is a common scenario in soccer, you cut one way but your ankle didn't get the memo and you feel it, your foot and ankle turn in a way it shouldn't! Within seconds your outer ankle starts to swell, get red, and very painful.  If you stand up and can walk, I still would recommend you see your foot and ankle specialist.  It is absolutely best to see a specialist that can take an X-ray of your foot and ankle to make sure you have not broken anything.  Your specialist can give you advice on what you need to do to get better, write for a medicine if necessary and offer you devices that may help in the aid or care of your foot or ankle injury.    The reason I stress that you should see your foot and ankle specialist is because there are 8 plus different bones you could possible break with this type of injury. Also, a well thought plan of care is going to be better than your own self diagnosis and treatment. Just "googling" your child's symptoms, more often than not results in sub-optimal results in their outcome, and taking your neighbors advice on your child's foot problems yields pretty terrible results!

So you see your doctor and X-ray shows no fracture, SWEET, right? Well, though I think breaking a bone is not ideal, soft tissue injuries can take some time to get better, and some people struggle for an extended duration.  Convalescence of a foot or ankle injury is very important.  If you do not treat it right, it will not treat you right! It can take much longer for your little athlete to get back on the field with out proper care.

Ingrown Nails

If you do not know what an ingrown toenail is be thankful.  If you "think" you know what an ingrown toenail is you probably do not.  People who have had an ingrown nail know the difference.  If it hurts, bleeds, smells and ruins you white socks, you probably have an ingrown nail! 

Why is your little soccer player more susceptible for an ingrown nail?  The repetitive little micro trauma that occurs while playing soccer is the culprit!  Stopping and starting and quit pivoting motion that is required to fake out your opponent really does a number on your big toes and specifically your big toe nail!    

This can be a very painful problem but can be solved in just one office visit to a podiatrist.  Some kids will not show their parents their ingrown nail until it is very bad. If your child is limping at the end of a soccer game, check their feet out.  Also a good piece of advice is to check and make sure their shoes are not "too" tight.  Again, some soccer players walk a fine line of shoes that are too tight because they want that "touch" on the ball.  If their shoes are too tight ditch them and go at least a 1/2 bigger.  

Calcaneal Apophysitis(Sever's Disease)

This is probably the most common problem I see in soccer players between the age of 9 and 14.  The calcaneus is your heel bone.  What is unique about this age group is that sometime between the ages of 8 and 14 the big growth plate on this bone starts to ossify, or fuse and become a part of the bone.  As this process gradually happens over this 4 year time span, your young athlete may experience this problem more than once in their little soccer career.

Another name for calcaneal apophysitis is Sever's disease, but do not let the term "disease" fool you it is not associated with any true disease process.  But this can be very painful for your young athlete and should be seen by a foot and ankle specialist to rule out any other problem. Your child will tell you they have pain in their heel and you will google heel pain and convince yourself you child has plantar fasciitis.  They most likely do not!  

Treatment for this is pretty simple when confirmed as calcaneal apophysitis.  We have the child ice at least twice a day and put them on an anti-inflammatory for a week or two.  Usually your child's ability to continue to play soccer will truly be based on their pain threshold.  If the pain is bad, we usually will recommend a week or two of rest. 

If you are interested in learning more about other foot or ankle problems please feel free to check out our website at: Dr. Henne and myself are Board Certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and treat many different foot and ankle problems. Our goal is always to get you back on your feet as soon a possible and use surgery as a last resort.

Michele McGowan, DPM
Center for Ankle and Foot Care
3150 Citrus Tower Blvd Suite B
Clermont, FL 34711


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