Injuries of the Foot and Ankle That Occur During Sports or Physical Activity

Sports injury of the foot and ankle is any injury that happens to the bones, joints or soft tissues (muscles, ligaments and tendons) of your foot or ankle when you’re participating in a sport or physical exercise. These types of injuries can occur if you collide with another person or object while playing a sport or if you fall.

Broken bones, joint dislocations and soft tissue sprains and strains can all happen in the foot and ankle during physical activity. Common types of foot and ankle sports injuries are:

  • Achilles tendon injuries. An injury to the Achilles tendon, which runs along the back of the ankle. The two main types of Achilles tendon injuries are Achilles tendinitis and Achilles tendon rupture.
  • Ankle sprains. An injury that occurs when the ankle ligaments are stretched too far or tear.
  • Stress fractures. These are bone breaks caused by repeated stress. Tarsal navicular stress fractures are a common type of stress fracture that occur in the navicular bone of the tarsus (the bones that make up the middle and back parts of the foot).
  • Osteochondral injuries of the talus. The talus bone is one of the three bones that make up the ankle joint. Osteochondral injuries of the talus cause damage to the cartilage that covers this bone. Bruising of the talus (bone bruise) can also occur. Ankle sprains are one type of injury that can cause osteochondral injuries of the talus.
  • Turf toe. Spraining of the ligaments in the big toe.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Pain and swelling are the main symptoms of sports injuries of the foot and ankle. In some cases, the pain can cause your body to go into shock. Open fractures cause open wounds that may bleed.

Many sports injuries of the foot and ankle require immediate medical attention at an emergency room or urgent care clinic. Your doctor will complete a physical exam and order an X-ray, MRI or CT scan to assess the injury and plan treatment.

Mild sports injuries often heal well with rest and proper treatment. A full recovery after a severe injury is also possible with skilled treatment and rehabilitative care from orthopedic and sports medicine experts.

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Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

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Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. There, they focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. This produces the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional niche areas of orthopaedics, including arthritis care and joint arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery).

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We developed a special joint replacement education website just for patients undergoing joint arthroplasty. The website takes you step by step through the joint replacement process. From things to consider before choosing surgery to recovery after surgery, you’ll find the information you need to help you feel confident in your decision to undergo joint replacement.

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