Spring Sports Introduce New Ankle Injuries

What you need to know
Andrew McDonald pitching a baseball

 

Sun and warmth are just around the corner and that means high school and club sports are gearing up. Because these sports are outdoors on a field and often uneven terrain, the ankle is particularly susceptible to injury.

“Basketball and football are the sports we think of commonly to sprain an ankle, but with year round play and early spring competition we are seeing these injuries more consistently,” says Adam G. Miller, M.D., Orthopaedic Surgeon and Foot and Ankle Specialist with Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.

Baseball, soccer, track are often played on fields that have undulations after the winter. These unsuspecting “landmines” can lead to a serious injury.

And sometimes serious injuries can go unnoticed. Miller cautions: “A rolled ankle may be the tip of the iceberg for the patient. It’s important to assess the entire lower extremity to ensure this doesn’t become a chronic issue.”

Here are some tips for ankle injuries:

  • Initial protection is needed. Immediately after the ankle injury, apply ice and compression to the leg pain. Protection and rest is advisable until one knows the severity of the injury.
  • Need to walk before you can run. After an injury if you can’t put weight on the leg to walk, it is advisable to make an appointment with a medical professional. This can be a sign of a complete ligament tear or subtle fracture.
  • Beware of the plateau. If you are successfully improving following an ankle injury but then notice your recovery stops, don’t settle for partial relief. Chronic pain can be a sign of worsening injury such as a high ankle sprain, peroneal tendon tear or cartilage damage with osteochondral defect and should be evaluated.
  • Learn from the past. While each new injury can recover similarly to previous ankle sprains, a history of multiple injuries can predispose a patient to more pain and instability that can be difficult to self-treat. A long history of ankle issues should trigger an office visit.

Bottom line: beware of the unsuspecting ankle injury that masquerades as a minor ankle “roll” and seek medical attention promptly.