Foot and Ankle Sports Injuries

Your feet and ankles are the base to all of your daily activities. An injury can prevent you from running, walking or standing.

Ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis, and stress fractures are three of the most common sports injuries that can affect the foot and ankle. Other common foot and ankle injuries include the following:

  • Tendonitis – an inflammation, irritation and swelling of a tendon due to repeated or over use.
  • Plantar fasciitis – an inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot, which causes pain when walking.

You don’t need to be an athlete to suffer from one of these injuries, though. They can happen to anyone at any age.

Understanding foot and ankle sports injuries

It’s important to understand the most common ankle and foot injuries because most people take 1,000s of steps every day. If you are suffering any pain, we recommend treatment as soon as possible.

Sprained ankle

A sprained ankle can occur when you change direction quickly, such as when you play soccer or field hockey. They can also happen simply when walking on an uneven surface. A sprain occurs when the ankle rolls or twists in an awkward way, which causes tearing of the ligaments.


  • Immediate ankle pain
  • Inability to bear weight on the injured ankle
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Tenderness

Achilles tendonitis

The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to your heel. This tendon is used every time you walk, run, stand and jump. Activities that include running and jumping may cause the Achilles tendon to become inflamed. A tendon tear may occur if tendonitis is not treated.


  • Pain and swelling in the heel
  • Limited ankle flexibility (cannot stand on your toes)
  • Difficulty walking up or climbing stairs
  • Sharp pain in your ankle or leg
  • Skin in the painful area may be overly warm to the touch

Stress fractures of the foot

Stress fractures are small cracks in the bone. High-impact aerobic exercise, such as running or dancing, and overuse can lead to the stress fractures in the foot.


  • Sudden and severe pain when the injury occurs
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Tenderness to the touch

Treatment of foot and ankle sports injuries

The Henry Ford Sports Medicine team recommends the RICE method, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, when you are first injured.

Contact your doctor if pain or symptoms persist after the RICE home treatment or if you suspect that you have a broken bone. A doctor can diagnose your foot or ankle injury by conducting a physical exam, taking x-rays, and reviewing your symptoms and medical history.

Non-surgical treatments

Non-surgical treatments may include immobilizing your foot or ankle, physical therapy or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.

Surgical treatments

Surgical treatment for an foot or ankle injury may be considered if all non-surgical treatment options have been exhausted. Your Henry Ford doctor will personalize your treatment based on your needs.

Physical Therapy for foot and ankle sports injuries

A physical therapist may work with you to help you get back to your activities. Our dedicated rehabilitation team combines exercise and strength training with manual therapy. Special therapy, such as aquatic therapy, may also be used.

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