By Robert Weiss, DPM
Soccer season is in full swing and it is important for parent and coaches to think twice before letting a young, injured player "play through" foot and ankle pain. In the immature athlete, starting and stepping and moving side-to-side on cleats (that are no more than moccasins with spikes) is a foot and ankle injury waiting to happen. The young athlete who has a lingering, nagging heel pain may have a stress fracture. Stress fractures do not always show up on initial x-ray, so parents and coaches may not have been aware of it. When playing with pain, they can't give their team 100 percent and it makes the injury worse. Rest, physical therapy, and in some cases immobilization is needed to relieve the inflammation.
Soccer is a very popular sport in our community, but the constant running places excessive stress on the growth plates. The growth plates are still open until the age of 14-16 years of age.
Other types of overuse injuries are Achilles Tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis, when heel pain causes inflammation of the tissue extending from the heel to the toes. Quick, out-of-nowhere ankle sprains or collision between soccer players take their toll as well. These injuries should be taken seriously and evaluated promptly in children so as to prevent traumatic arthritis in adulthood.
Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery with a practice in Darien, affiliated with Stamford Hospital and member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot & Ankle Institute. A member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials, he is a veteran of 35 marathons.
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