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.

Experts in Care

Meet our doctors, view their profiles and select the one that’s right for you.

Find a doctor near you

Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Hershey Medical Center is ranked as one of the best orthopaedic 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 state-of-the-art treatments, translational research and provider training.

The Most Comprehensive Sports Medicine Program in Central Pennsylvania

As part of Penn State Bone and Joint Institute, Penn State Health Sports Medicine is able to offer the most collaborative sports medicine care. Our primary care sports medicine providers work with our orthopaedic surgeons and other orthopaedic specialists to provide total care for the whole patient. This creates the best patient outcomes when combined with innovative procedures and individualized treatment plans.

Other members of the Penn State Health Sports Medicine team who help treat sports injuries of the foot and ankle include physical therapists and subspecialty-trained musculoskeletal radiologists.

A Regional Resource for Complex Traumatic Orthopedic Injuries

Surgeons challenged by complex orthopedic trauma reconstruction cases turn to the expert orthopaedic traumatologists at Penn State Bone and Joint Institute for guidance in care. These fellowship-trained specialty surgeons have extensive experience treating the most difficult fractures and dislocations as well as the after-effects of severe orthopedic trauma.

Advancing Orthopedic Medicine Through Research

The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at Penn State College of Medicine are committed to advancing our field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with the College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.

Support Groups

Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.

Learn more about support groups offered

Convenient Locations

Find the care your family needs, close to home, at one of our many locations throughout central Pennsylvania.

Find a location near you