Sports Injuries of the Lower Extremity
People today are participating in various sports related activities. As a result, the instances of sports related injuries are on the rise. The most common reasons for these injuries are improper biomechanics, overuse or stress injuries, and of course an injury as a result of a trauma.
Improper biomechanics is perhaps the most common cause of sports injuries of the foot and ankle and may be avoided with proper preparation and corrective measures. A good start is with a thorough examination by your Podiatrist. A Podiatrist is especially qualified to diagnose and correct biomechanical abnormalities by using unique diagnostic tools and techniques not employed by physicians in other specialties.
A typical examination to understand the position and motion of the foot can include the following: A seated evaluation which includes forefoot to rearfoot alignment checks and leg length. A standing evaluation will focus on the position of the feet from the front and back, leg alignment, leg length, and overall posture.
Lower extremity range of motion and muscle strength tests will address the hip, hamstring, quad, and ankle. A front, back,and side gait analysis, will focus on pronation (or lack of), leg swing, arm swing, shoulder tilt, head tilt, knee position and great toe motion. Shoe and orthotic evaluations will uncover wear patterns in different shoe types. And finally additional tests may also include X-rays and/or musculoskeletal ultrasound. If not addressed, improper biomechanics can often lead to overuse or repetitive stress injuries as the body over- compensates for structural abnormalities.
When the repetitive stress causes tiny cracks in the bone surface it is called a stress or fatigue fracture. These fractures can occur with sudden increases in training, improper training techniques, or changes in training surfaces. Your podiatrist is the best source of information including warm up techniques and stretching exercises to reduce the risk of a stress related injury. Most other types of fractures extend through the bone and are a result of a trauma.
They may be stable, when there is no shift in bone alignment, or displaced, when the ends of the bone no longer line up properly. A twisting injury may result in a fracture due to the tearing of a tendon that attaches to a bone and pulls a small piece of that bone away. These types of injuries may take longer to heal and even require surgery by a board certified podiatric surgeon. Again, utilize your podiatrist's unique perspective and qualifications to help add lower extremity flexibility and strength, to provide recommendations for proper equipment, and to help you limit the severity and speed the recovery of an injury resulting from a trauma.