Playoff season for the NHL is upon us and it is no secret that fans in our area are beyond excited as our very own Washington Capitals continue their race to the Stanley Cup. While we watch history in the making begin to unfold, the thought of foot and ankle injuries always plague the back of my mind. Hockey is universally known as one of the more aggressive high-impact sports, and no one knows that better than the doctors and athletic trainers who treat these players.
At Frederick Foot & Ankle, we’ve treated hockey players of all ages. It may come as no surprise that we see injuries on all areas of the foot and ankle from this sport, but aside from the obvious breaks and strains that come along with any high impact sport, we see an incredible amount of repeated use injuries. These injuries are caused by redundant movements on specific areas of the body that wear on players until they have pain that they can no longer ignore.
One of the most common injuries is Achilles tendonitis, which we see in not just our hockey players, but anyone ranging from runners and athletes to business men and women. The Achilles connects the calf muscle to the heel bone and has been known to cause soreness in the back of the heel that can range anywhere to mild aches in the morning that are relieved by walking throughout the day, to debilitating pain that causes issues with a patient’s gait. If not treated in a timely manner, Achilles tendonitis can increase the risk of an Achilles tear, which is a much more severe injury that can require surgery. Luckily, we offer a range of conservative treatment options for patients which allow us to address the underlying inflammation and relieve pain so that players aren’t slowed down.
Another incredibly common injury among athlete’s that affects the foot and ankle in surprising ways would be injuries to the back such as herniated disks or nerve impingement. The sciatic nerve runs along the spine and controls sensations all the way down to the foot. These types of injuries could cause sharp, shooting pains as well as numbness and the sensation of pins and needles in the lower extremities. Because of the nature of these pains, we see patients who have acquired these types of injuries a great deal. Our doctors will evaluate the signs and symptoms of the patients and may order an MRI to get a clear picture of the spinal column and, based on the results of the study, can then refer patients to a specialist to have the problem addressed at the source instead of masking the symptoms.
As we continue to watch the Capitals go above and beyond to win the title of Stanley Cup Champions, I’d recommend that our own aspiring hockey stars continue preventative care at home and on the ice. Stretching, wearing proper padding and safety gear, and tending to minor injuries such as blisters at the time they occur can be the difference between a season-ending injury and a minor blip on a player’s radar. If a trauma or repeated-use injury should try to ruin your season, be sure to schedule a trip to a board-certified podiatrist. At Frederick Foot & Ankle, we treat an enormous range of injuries below the knee to keep our patients moving. Let’s Go Caps!