March Madness and Heel Pain
Spring is finally here, and so is the excitement of March Madness. The season is well underway, and basketball fans across the nation are looking forward to the tournament finals. Indeed, this year’s games were full of upsets and memorable moments. And we certainly hope that your brackets have come along nicely.
But even if you don’t end up winning on your brackets, maybe you will at least be inspired by your favorite players and get out there to shoot some hoops and earn your bragging rights in a different way!
And, hey, nothing better than the sun on your face and the refreshing breeze as you hit the courts with your friends. Here at Wilks Advanced Foot and Ankle, we very much encourage you to enjoy this spring and all the sports that come with it, but you should play smart and make sure you’re taking proper care of your feet and ankles while you’re at it – though basketball is a great way to keep your body active and healthy, it can also be a dangerous sport!
This is because participating in basketball involves many strenuous motions, from sprinting and jumping to shuffling and awkward landings. And, naturally, all these continuous movements can be tough on your feet and ankles, potentially causing great injury and putting you on the sideline for weeks.
So before you lace up and start looking for that orange ball in your closet, let us tell you about one of the most common foot injuries endured by both athletes and non-athletes during this spring season – Achilles tendinitis.
What is Achilles Tendonitis?
Of course, in the midst of all the madness this month, there were some foot and ankle injuries – whether it be on the professional court or in the backyard, many athlete’s and weekend warriors all over the country experienced a foot or ankle injury of some kind, including Achilles tendinitis.
The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in your body. It can withstand forces of over 1,000 pounds! But its location also makes it one of the most vulnerable tendons in the body to suffer rupturing.
This tendon is located behind the ankle and connects the calf muscles to the heel. It is used when walking, running, and jumping – leaving no surprise as to why it is so common for basketball players to injure it.
Now, Achilles tendonitis develops when the tendon becomes inflamed from repetitive stress and having tight calf muscles. In some cases, the tendon may also tear, or rupture, if it is under too much strain – this can put a player on the bench for the rest of the season. All it takes is a sudden jump or awkward planting of the foot for your favorite player to be sidelined, messing up your whole bracket.
Usually, when someone experiences a torn or ruptured Achilles tendon, a “pop” or “snap” will be followed by a sharp pain in the back of the ankle and lower leg. In these cases, surgical repair is needed in order to restore proper function to the foot.
Thankfully, there are ways to prevent this painful condition from happening to you.
How Can You Prevent Achilles Tendinitis?
Ultimately, the best thing you can do to prevent Achilles tendonitis is to engage in practices that help strengthen and protect your feet. Below are some easy measures you can take to make sure your feet are prepared for the courts:
- Stretch daily. And always stretch before and after performing physical activities.
- Take your time. Never go “full-throttle” right from the beginning – increase activity levels gradually.
- Do some cross-training. Alternate between high and low-impact activities.
- Strengthen your calf muscles. This will help them better withstand stress and impact.
- Wear the right shoes. Opt for footwear with good support and protection, and that are appropriate for your sport of choice.
All that said, we also understand that sometimes despite all efforts to avoid injury, injury will still happen. And if you ever experience pain, tenderness, or swelling in your feet or ankles, you should come visit our Oregon office right away! Treatment for an injured Achilles tendon should begin immediately – without prompt care, this condition will get progressively worse, increasing the risk for further deterioration and rupture.
What are the Treatment Options?
When you come visit our office, we will conduct a thorough evaluation of your feet and ankles in order to accurately diagnose your condition. Based on what we find, we will then determine the best treatment options available for your specific situation.
If the Achilles tendon is not torn, or ruptured, treatment options usually involve relatively noninvasive, conservative measures. Below are some steps we will likely recommend:
- I.C.E. treatment. Rest, ice and compress the injured area, and keep it elevated as much as possible.
- Physical activities. Avoid participating in sports or switch to a less stressful sport while you heal, like swimming.
- Over-the-counter medication. Ibuprofen or naproxen will help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Exercises and stretches will help lengthen and strengthen the Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
- Custom orthotics. They will help keep your feet and ankles stable and aligned.
- Braces or night splints. These will help reduce inflammation, ease pain and speed the healing process.
- MLS Laser Therapy. Very specific frequencies of light energy will reach the sites of soft tissue injuries and stimulate the damaged cells. This enhances cellular reproduction and growth (i.e. healing), and also helps to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
Now, if the methods above have failed or if the tendon is ruptured, we might recommend surgery. And, if that is the case for you, then there is no need to be alarmed – you can rest assured that when you are at our Oregon office, you will be in good hands. Our team of experts is Board Certified in foot and ankle surgery and well equipped and trained in this area.
We Can Help You!
If you have recently injured your foot or ankle playing sports and have been experiencing pain or discomfort, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment at our Wilks Advanced Foot Care office. Our team of experts are equipped with the best tools and knowledge available to help you get back on your feet as quickly and as safely as possible.
Just give us a call at (541) 673-0742. You can also take advantage of our handy request form online, and one of our trained staff members will contact you soon to confirm your appointment.