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.
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.”
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.
Many foot and ankle injuries can be managed and treated successfully with conservative options like rest and physical therapy, depending on the nature and severity of the injury. However, when conservative treatments are insufficient, surgery may be necessary to relieve symptoms, restore function and mobility, or prevent permanent damage. The podiatrists at the Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA, offer a range of options to help you recover from common orthopedic injuries and conditions like sprains, fractures, and heel pain.
Foot and Ankle Surgery in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, cause of the injury, conservative treatments are usually the first course of action when dealing with foot and ankle problems like mild to moderate strains and joint issues like pain and inflammation. However, if a condition like a tear or a fracture is too severe, or your condition becomes chronic and stops responding to conservative treatments, surgery may be necessary to get you back on your feet so to speak.
When is Foot and Ankle Surgery Necessary?
Some of the most common causes for foot surgery include:
- Joint damage/bunions
- Bone spurs
- Ligament or tendon ruptures/tears
- Broken bones
- Deformities or abnormalities
- Nerve damage
Even if conservative treatments have worked for you in the past, surgery may be the best option to relieve ongoing symptoms like pain and mobility issues, or to prevent permanent damage to a joint or nerve tissue. The type of surgery and required recovery time and rehabilitation treatment typically depends on the condition and individual patient, and in some cases, you may still have to undergo physical therapy treatments in addition to surgery.
Find a Foot and Ankle Surgeon in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA
For more information about foot and ankle injury treatments and surgery, contact the Reston Foot and Ankle Center by calling (703) 437-6333 to schedule an appointment with a foot and ankle surgeon today. Call (703) 368-7166 for the Manassas location, or (703) 777-2101 for the Leesburg location.
Reston, Manassas, Leesburg, Virginia – 7/31/18 Steven Gordon, DPM, FACFAS, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), says he’s noticing more and more overweight and obese children with foot and ankle pain in his examining room, mirroring a national epidemic of childhood obesity.
An estimated 16 percent of U.S. children ages six to 19 are overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Poor diet, lack of exercise and genetics can play a role. A “vicious cycle’ of foot pain and obesity traps some children.
“You want overweight children to exercise and lose weight, but because of their weight, their feet hurt and they can’t exercise,” says Gordon, a foot and ankle surgeon in Reston, Manassas, Leesburg.
The foot is a complex structure consisting of 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Last November, researchers in Britain reported “alarming new evidence that childhood obesity changes foot structure and results in instability when walking.” Being overweight flattens the foot, straining the plantar fascia, a band of tissue which runs from the heel to the base of the toes, causing heel pain.
Because the heel bone is not fully developed until age 14 or older, overweight children are more prone to Severs disease. Although not an actual disease, it involves an inflammation of the heel’s growth plate due to muscle strain and repetitive stress. Walking makes the pain worse. Being overweight may also cause stress fractures, or hairline fractures (breaks) in a child’s heel bone.
According to the ACFAS Web site FootHealthFacts.org, some overweight children suffer foot pain from congenital or inherited foot conditions, such as bunions, hammertoes, pediatric flatfoot and tarsal coalition, an abnormal connection between two or more bones in the back of the foot. Children with these deformities may be less active because of pain. Sometimes a child will complain of calf or arch pain. This results from a flatfoot that is flexible. The collapsing of the arch can require more energy, making it more difficult for a child to walk and run.
Foot and ankle surgeons treat many overweight children with custom orthotic devices (shoe inserts), physical therapy and other conservative measures to reduce or eliminate pain. But treating painful feet and ankles is only part of the childhood weight loss equation.
“As foot and ankle surgeons, we can reduce the aches and pains so these children can run around and play like all the other kids, but parents need to take responsibility for watching their children’s’ lifestyles and diets,” says Gordon
For more information on foot and ankle conditions, visit FootHealthFacts.org.
This website includes materials that are protected by copyright, or other proprietary rights. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use, as defined in the copyright laws, requires the written permission of the copyright owners.