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Common Runners’ Injury: Stress Fractures of the Foot

Repetitive impact on feet can increase risk of damage

 

 

Reston, Manassas, Leesburg, Virginia, 10/10/18 -- — Stress fractures of the foot are becoming more common in runners, especially first-time marathoners, according to Northern Virginia foot and ankle surgeon Steven Gordon DPM,AACFAS.

 

The growing popularity of marathons among beginning runners has contributed to the increase in repetitive stress injuries, including stress fractures of the foot, seen by Dr. Gordon, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Often, first-time marathoners enter a race with little or improper long-distance training. The lack of experience coupled with the repetitive impact placed on the feet during the run can produce enough stress to cause hairline breaks in the bones of the foot.

 

“Runners who increase their mileage too quickly or change to a more intense phase of training may be more susceptible to a stress fracture due to the increased force placed on the bones,” says Dr. Gordon. “A general rule of thumb for runners is to increase the mileage by no more than 10 percent each week. Runners who are training also need to have adequate rest time in between runs to help decrease the risk of a fracture.”

 

Runners at all levels of experience are also at higher risk for stress fractures if they wear improper shoes while running or training, suffer from flatfoot or other foot deformities, or have osteoporosis. Signs of a stress fracture can include pain, swelling, redness and possibly bruising of the area.

 

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“Stress fractures can occur anywhere in the foot and can eventually lead to a complete break of the bone if left untreated,” Dr. Gordon explained.  “Early diagnosis and treatment are important to ensure proper healing.”

 

If a break is suspected, Dr. Gordon advises runners to immediately follow the RICE protocol—Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. If pain and swelling last longer than a few days, an appointment for an x-ray and diagnosis is in order.

 

In most cases, treatment includes rest and immobilization with casting of the foot. Surgery may be required in certain instances to repair and stabilize a stress fracture that has progressed into a full fracture.

 

Runners can take action to prevent repetitive stress injuries in their feet by wearing supportive athletic shoes and slowly building up their activity levels according to their abilities. “If a runner suffers from abnormal mechanics in the foot, such as over pronation or hypermobility, custom orthotics can also be helpful to prevent these injuries,” Dr. Gordon, adds. 

 

If you suspect you have a foot injury or fracture, call Dr. Gordon’s office at 703-437-6333 for an evaluation.   

 

For additional information on stress fractures and other foot injuries, visit FootHealthFacts.org.

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September 27, 2018
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Reston, Manassas, Leesburg, Virginia, 09/27/2018 -- Soccer season is in full swing and a local foot and ankle surgeon strongly urges parents and coaches to think twice before coaxing young, injury-prone soccer players to “play through” foot and ankle pain.

“Skeletally immature kids, starting and stopping and moving side to side on cleats that are little more than moccasins with spikes – that’s a recipe for foot and ankle sprains and worse,” cautions Steven Gordon, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

“Kids will play with lingering, nagging heel pain that, upon testing, turns out to be a stress fracture that neither they, their parents nor their coaches were aware of,” he said. “By playing with pain, they can’t give their team 100 percent and make their injuries worse, which prolongs their time out of soccer.”

Gordon said he has actually had to show parents x-rays of fractures before they’ll take their kids out of the game. “And stress fractures can be subtle – they don’t always show up on initial x-rays.”

Symptoms of stress fractures include pain during normal activity and when touching the area, and swelling without bruising. Treatment usually involves rest and sometimes casting. Some stress fractures heal poorly and often require surgery, such as a break in the elongated bone near the little toe, known as a Jones fracture.

“Soccer is a very popular sport in our community, but the constant running associated with it places excessive stress on a developing foot,” Gordon said. he added that pain from overuse usually stems from inflammation, such as around the growth plate of the heel bone, more so than a stress fracture. “Their growth plates are still open and bones are still growing and maturing – until they’re about 13 to 16. Rest and, in some cases, immobilization of the foot should relieve that inflammation,” Gordon said.

Other types of overuse injuries are Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis (heel pain caused by inflammation of the tissue extending from the heel to the toes).

Quick, out-of-nowhere ankle sprains are also common to soccer. “Ankle sprains should be evaluated by a physician to assess the extent of the injury,” said Gordon. “If the ankle stays swollen for days and is painful to walk or even stand on, it could be a fracture."

Collisions between soccer players take their toll on toes. “When two feet are coming at the ball simultaneously, that ball turns into cement block and goes nowhere. The weakest point in that transaction is usually a foot, with broken toes the outcome,” he/she explained. “The toes swell up so much the player can’t get a shoe on, which is a good sign for young athletes and their parents: If they are having trouble just getting a shoe on, they shouldn’t play.”

For further information about various foot conditions, contact Dr. Gordon at 703-437-6333 or visit FootHealthFacts.org, sponsored by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

September 21, 2018
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6 tips to protect Northern Virginia kids in fall sports

 

Back-to-school sports season linked to ankle injuries

 

(Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA  - 9/21/18) If your children are playing sports this fall, pay attention to six tips that could protect them from serious ankle injuries.

 

Every fall, Northern Virginian foot and ankle surgeon Shaun Hafner, DPM, FACFAS notices an increase in ankle injuries among young athletes. Football, soccer and basketball are the sports most likely to lead to sprains, broken bones and other problems, he says. Hafner has offices in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg.

 

Dr. Hafner's top recommendation is for parents to get ankle injuries treated right away.

 

"What seems like a sprain is not always a sprain; in addition to cartilage injuries, your son or daughter might have injured other bones in the foot without knowing it. Have a qualified doctor examine the injury," says Dr. Hafner. "The sooner rehabilitation starts, the sooner we can prevent long-term problems like instability or arthritis, and the sooner your child can get back into competition."

           

Hafner says parents should also follow these additional tips from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons' Web site, FootHealthFacts.org:

 

--Have old sprains checked by a doctor before the season starts. A medical check-up can reveal whether your child's previously injured ankle might be vulnerable to sprains, and could possibly benefit from wearing a supportive ankle brace during competition.

 

--Buy the right shoe for the sport. Different sports require different shoe gear. Players shouldn't mix baseball cleats with football shoes.

 

--Children should start the season with new shoes. Old shoes can wear down like a car tire and become uneven on the bottom, causing the ankle to tilt because the foot can't lie flat.

 

--Check playing fields for dips, divots and holes. Most sports-related ankle sprains are caused by jumping and running on uneven surfaces. That's why some surgeons recommend parents walk the field, especially when children compete in non-professional settings like public parks, for spots that could catch a player's foot and throw them to the ground. Alert coaching officials to any irregularities.

 

--Encourage stretching and warm-up exercises. Calf stretches and light jogging before competition helps warm up ligaments and blood vessels, reducing the risk for ankle injuries.

Children's soccer linked to ingrown toenails

Snug cleats, repeated kicking can contribute to a painful problem

(Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA – 8/31/18) Toes and feet can take a beating, especially from sports.

Foot and ankle surgeon Steven Gordon, DPM, FACFAS, says he treats many soccer-playing children for ingrown toenails. He blames improper toenail trimming, snug soccer cleats and repetitive kicking for creating this painful problem.

“Many kids wear hand-me-down cleats that don’t fit,” says Gordon. “Older children like tighter cleats. They believe it gives them a better feel for the ball and the field.”

Dr. Gordon has offices in Northern Virginia and is a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. He says there are steps soccer moms and dads can take to prevent their children from suffering a painful ingrown toenail. First, teach children how to trim their toenails properly. Trim toenails in a fairly straight line, and don’t cut them too short. Second, make sure cleats fit properly.

“A child’s shoe size can change within a single soccer season,” Dr. Steven Gordon reminds parents.

If a child develops a painful ingrown toenail, soaking their foot in room-temperature water and gently massaging the side of the nail fold can reduce the inflammation. But Dr. Gordon warns parents against home treatments, which can be dangerous. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons lists myths about ingrown toenail home treatments on its Web site, FootHealthFacts.org.

“If your son’s or daughter’s ingrown toenails show signs of infection, it’s definitely time to seek medical care,” says Dr. Steven Gordon.

A foot and ankle surgeon like Dr. Gordon can remove a child’s ingrown toenail, and prevent it from returning, with a simple, 10-minute surgical procedure. During the short procedure, the doctor numbs the toe and removes the ingrown portion of the nail. Various techniques can permanently remove part of a nail’s root too, preventing it from growing back.

“Most children experience very little pain afterwards,” says Gordon, “and can resume normal activity the next day.”

August 17, 2018
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After wearing flip-flops all summer, students head back to school with painful feet

Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Virginia–8/17/2018 The sounds of back to school season include the ringing of school bells and cash registers, the slamming of locker doors, the noisy ruckus of school hallways and cafeterias, and the moans and groans of students over tests, homework, relationships, and increasingly, their aching feet.

Flip-flops are the summer footwear of choice for many students. But while these sandals are inexpensive and stylish, they don’t cushion or support the foot, leading to problems. After wearing flip-flops all summer, some students will head back to school this fall with foot pain and even injuries. Steven Gordon, DPM, FACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon with offices in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg reminds parents and students that foot pain isn’t normal and can be reduced or eliminated.

“People may not realize that even into your mid-teens, there’s new bone growing in your heel,” says Gordon. “Flip-flops don’t cushion the heel, so repetitive stress from walking can inflame that heel bone growth area and cause pain and tenderness.”

Heel pain and arch pain rank among the most common complaints among students who wear flip-flops. Other flip-flop feet problems students can take back to school include inflammation of the Achilles tendon, painful pinched nerves, sprained ankles, broken or sprained toes, cuts and scrapes, plantar warts, Athlete’s foot, and callus build-up on the heels and toes.

Foot and ankle surgeons can usually reduce or eliminate students’ foot pain with simple treatment methods including stretching exercises, ice massage, anti-inflammatory medications, and custom or over-the-counter shoe inserts.

Back to school season will always be painful for some students, but it doesn’t need to involve foot pain. Contact Dr. Gordon’s office at 703-437-6333 to have your student’s painful foot evaluated, and visit FootHealthFacts.org for more information on foot and ankle conditions.