Although exercise is beneficial to your health, the repetitive motion of this activities such as running often leads to overuse injuries. Our goal is to treat these injuries and teach our patients self-care and management techniques that allow them to maintain their active lifestyle. At Performance Health, we often treat injuries of the leg and ankle listed below:
- Achilles Tendinosis
- Calf Strains
- Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)
- Ankle Sprains
Achilles tendinosis is common in runners and athletes who participate in sports requiring lots of stop-and-go motion, like soccer and basketball. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles with the heel bone. Small tears in the tissue in and around this tendon (usually due to overuse) cause tendinosus. Over time, this condition can worsen and may result in rupture of the Achilles tendon. Symptoms of Achilles tendinosis include pain and swelling in the ankle, stiffness and weakness in the ankle joint, and difficulty pointing the toes.
Calf strain is characterized by a sharp pain and tightening at the back of the calf muscles. Calf muscle strains are the result of injury to the gastrocnemius and/or soleus muscles. In addition to pain, a calf strain may cause swelling and difficulty walking.
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)
Medial tibial stress syndrome (Shin Splints) is a common condition that causes pain and tenderness along the inside front portion of the shinbone (tibia). The pain may occur only during exercise, or may persist after ceasing the activity. The most common cause of shin splints is inflammation in the periosteum of the tibia bone. The periosteum is a protective tissue that surrounds the bone. When this tissue is inflamed it leads to pain. Flat feet, improper footwear, a sudden increase in training volume or intensity, faulty biomechanics while running, alignment issues, and overly tight or weak calf muscles may increase an athlete’s risk of developing shin splints.
Ankle sprains are a common injury in sports that require you to plant your foot and shift your weight, like soccer, and in activities that take place on uneven terrain, such as hiking and trail running. Ankle sprains result from the stretching or tearing of any of the 3 ligaments that support and connect the bones of the ankle. The severity of the sprain depends on how many of the ligaments are injured and how badly they are damaged. Swelling, bruising, pain, and a lack of mobility in the ankle joint are the hallmarks of an ankle sprain. Once the primary inflammation subsides, however, the sprain may lead to long-term weakness and instability in the ankle joint, increasing the risk of repeating the injury. Stretching and strengthening exercises that emphasize balance can help to prevent recurrent ankle sprains.
Foot injuries can be a major source of pain for the active population. Injury and overuse can cause inflammation in the muscles, tendons, ligaments that support the ankle and foot can all be sources of pain. The most common conditions we see at Performance Health are listed below.
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Morton's Neuroma
- Stress Fracture
- Peroneal Tendinopathy
Plantar fasciitis causes pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel. The plantar fascia is a thick piece of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes and forms the arch of the foot. Inflammation of the plantar fascia due to arch problems (and improper footwear), tight Achilles tendon(s), and overuse, may result in plantar fasciitis.
Mortons neuroma causes pain in the forefoot with occasional numbness and tingling in the 2nd and 3rd toe. This is most uncomfortable during the toe-off phase of gait. At times, patients complaint of feeling clicking in the forefoot or the sensation of their sock being scrunched up. Typically, the patient benefits from a large toe box in a shoe to allow the forefoot and toes to spread out comfortably.
Metatarsalgia is typically due to excessive or limited mobility in the forefoot causing undue stress in the 2nd or 3rd metatarsophalangeal joint. Pain is experienced during the toe-off phase of gait. Depending on the patients presentation, increase mobility or reducing range of motion of the forefoot is the first step in reducing the pain. Footware is assessed and suggestions are made accordingly.
Metatarsal Stress Fracture
The most common location for metatarsal stress fracture is in the 3rd or 4th metatarsal. Pain tends to be on the top of the foot and gets worse with the toe-off phase of gait. Symptoms include localized swelling or bruising. Patients can often experience a throbbing sensation when non-weight bearing.