Playing football comes with a high risk of injury. Trauma to the foot or ankle is a common type of injury suffered by NFL players (and non-professional football players as well). Now, not all football-related foot and ankle injuries are as gruesome as the one suffered by the Cowboys' Dak Prescott back in October of 2020, but anything that affects your feet or ankles as a football player can be tough to overcome.
And, we all know footballl players are tough, so imagine being a regular joe like you or me, and suffering one of these injuries. It can be a long road to recovery.
When a foot or ankle injury impacts your daily life and prevents you from participating in the activities you once enjoyed, contact our experienced DFW sports medicine podiatrist for treatment options that can help you heal and return to the game.
But first, take a look at our definitive guide to football-related foot and ankle injuries common to football players.
The Most Common Football-Related Foot and Ankle Injuries
NFL players and other football players are at risk of various injuries on the field, especially ones that affect the feet and/or ankles. The fast-paced, physically demanding nature of football makes these injuries very common. Keep in mind, there are many types of injuries that our DFW sports medicine podiatrist sees on a weekly basis, however, these are some of the most common football-related foot and ankle injuries.
A sprained ankle happens when there is a tear in the ligaments that connect the bones of the leg to the foot. This type of injury is one of the most common among football players due to the strain they put on their ankles when running or jumping. If they are tackled or take a fall, they can sprain their ankle if they land in an awkward position. Repeated ankle sprains can not only cause chronic pain but can lead to long-term complications such as arthritis.
Turf toe is an injury to the ligament of the big toe joint and is one of the most common seen among NFL players. This type of injury happens suddenly when a football player loses traction on turf or another field surface and hyper-extends the big toe joint beyond its normal range of motion. It can also occur if a football player falls on another player’s foot and causes the toe to bend backward. In most cases, turf toe will heal on its own over time using conservative treatment methods such as rest, ice, and elevation. But in severe cases when the toe is dislocated, surgery may be required.
Achilles Tendon Rupture or Achilles Tendonitis
Football players are at an increased risk of injuring their Achilles tendon, the strong band of tissue that extends down the back of the lower leg and attaches to the heel. An injury to the Achilles tendon can occur when the player is quickly changing direction and position, backpedaling, or accelerating down the field. There are two types of injuries that can affect the Achilles tendon:
- Achilles tendon rupture. A rupture happens when the Achilles tendon is stretched and tears. This can happen after falling or being tackled. Depending on the severity of the injury, there are both conservative and surgical options for treatment.
- Achilles tendonitis. This condition happens when the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed. This type of overuse injury can occur in football players who increase the intensity or frequency of their workouts too soon. Strengthening exercises are often recommended to treat this condition.
A Jones fracture is a break on the fifth metatarsal, the long bone along the outer part of the foot that connects to the pinky toe. This type of foot break occurs from overuse or stress on the bone from repetitive motion making it a common type of fracture among football players. To treat this type of fracture, the player may need to wear a foot support to heal, and some players may need surgery.
Imagine how painful it would be to walk, let alone run, if the bones in the middle of your foot were broken or ligaments in that same area were torn. This is what is known as a Lisfranc injury. Sometimes, the injury can be more on the minor side, similar to the injury suffered by running back Najee Harris of the Pittsburgh steelers, were a sprain occurs in the middle of your foot. Regardless of whether it's minor or not, Lisfranc injuries can be quite painful.
Plantar Fascia Tear or Rupture
One of the more painful injuries on our list, tearing or rupturing of the plantar fascia can be extremely difficult to play with. Oddly enough, a complete tear is less painful than a partial tear. Your plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs from the base of your toes to your heel and can cause an acute pain in the arch of your foot.
Diagnosing and Treating Foot/Ankle Injuries
If you suffer an ankle or foot injury, it is important to consult with a podiatrist for an evaluation. If a foot or ankle injury is left untreated, it may not heal properly and can result in lifelong complications. An untreated injury can lead to:
- Joint damage
- Chronic pain
- Limited movement
Contact Our DFW Sports Medicine Podiatrist for a Consult
If you have injured your foot or ankle, contact our DFW sports medicine podiatrist for a consultation today. We can answer your questions and create a custom treatment plan based on your specific needs. Contact our Grapevine or Keller office to request an appointment by filling out our convenient online contact form below or calling our office at 817-481-4000.