Posts for tag: muscle injuries
Exercise is great for you, and it comes in so many forms: biking, walking, swimming, running, weightlifting, etc. For many people who struggle with foot and leg pain, however, exercise can be a terrible trial. One of the most common overuse injuries from exercise is shin splints. This is often used as a catch-all term for lower leg pain, but shin splints specifically refer to the chronic damage done to muscles, tissue, and bone through the stress of overuse.
READ MORE: Foot Health for Marathoners
The medical term for shin splints is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. This happens when a muscle is pulled away from the bone, causing micro-tears in the muscle and surrounding tissue that present as generalized pain. Sometimes pain can occur on the outside of the shin bone, and this is called anterior shin splints. Medial pain will present on the inner side of the leg and is more common.
Repetitive motion injuries such as ligament sprains or stress fractures only occur to ligaments or bones. Shin splints cause damage to multiple parts of the leg, meaning it is imperative for us to avoid them and treat them if they do occur. Shin splints are most common in runners, dancers, and the military, but can present during any sport or heavy activity.
Specific conditions and activities that can contribute to shin splints include:
-Starting with too much exercise, too quickly
-Changing terrain or surface (such as switching from flat routes to hills)
-Always exercising on hard surfaces
-Not allowing for body recovery time between strenuous activities
-Exercising without proper stretching
-Worn out shoes
-Flat feet or high-arches
If you feel pain or tenderness, or see redness and swelling in your legs, use the RICE method. In case you forgot, RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Stop all activity and do not resume until the pain has completely dissipated. Ice the front and sides of your shin while laying with your legs elevated above your heart. Compression socks can also help reduce swelling. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be taken in addition to RICE treatment.
READ MORE: What Does RICE Mean?
Once you have rested and the pain has subsided, it’s important to make sure shin splints don’t happen again. Change the intensity, frequency, or location of your workout to reduce strenuous surfaces or terrain. Have your running stride evaluated for potential imbalances and work to correct these. Replace your athletic shoes every 300-500 miles. If you have flat feet or high-arches, consider a support or orthotic to support important areas of the foot.
If you have shin splints that reoccur even after these changes, it’s time to see a podiatrist. Stress fractures and compartment syndrome can both be mistaken for shin splints. Your podiatrist will perform an examination and take x-rays to rule out other causes. Often, small changes to your workout or working in lower-impact activities can help reduce injury and pain. The doctors at the FAAWC are here to help. Make an appointment today and learn how you can exercise free from the pain of shin splints.
Last week we focused on ligaments and the ways we can sprain, tear, and stretch them. Today, we focus on our tendons, specifically the Achilles tendon. Achilles was a great hero of ancient Greece and the battle for Troy. Legend has it that he couldn’t be defeated in battle, but a single arrow to the back of the heel was enough to bring him down. If you’ve ever torn or ruptured your Achilles tendon, you know exactly why.
READ MORE: High Heels and Your Achilles Heel
A tendon is a strong cord that connects muscles to bones. The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to your heel bone and is the biggest tendon in your body. During recreational sports or heavy activity, the tendon may overstretch (causing pain) or tear/rupture (causing lots of pain). If your tendon ruptures, you might hear an audible “snap” or “pop” followed by severe pain and an inability to walk on the affected limb. While minor injuries can recover with rest and time, an Achilles tendon rupture may need to be surgically repaired to ensure proper healing.
Diagnosing an Achilles Tendon rupture is relatively straightforward. Your podiatrist may ask you to try pointing your toes, or they may feel around the calf for the tendon itself. In cases of a complete rupture, they may be able to feel a gap between the two ends. If there is any question about the severity of your injury, they may request additional tests such as an MRI or ultrasound to get a better look. Strains and ruptures can be treated with surgical or non-surgical options. Which you choose depends on a lot of factors so be sure to discuss your options thoroughly with your podiatrist.
Nonsurgical treatment of an Achilles tendon rupture involves complete immobilization of the foot and ankle. You may wear a cast or walking boot in combination with crutches to avoid weight-bearing. This path requires a minimum of six weeks for healing and can often take months with many follow up visits to your doctor. Tendons left to repair naturally are not as strong as surgically repaired ones so physical therapy and ankle strengthening will be important parts of your treatment plan. The chances of re-rupture are higher with non-surgical treatment.
The surgical solution for an Achilles tendon rupture is to have your podiatrist stretch and sew the two pieces of your tendon back together. While this sounds gross and invasive, it’s a fairly simple procedure. Surgical repair of tendons makes them stronger, lessening the chances of another rupture, and gives you more range of motion than a non-surgical option. Recovery time is shorter with a surgical fix meaning you’ll be back to the activities you love in no time! All of our doctors are well trained in the repair of Achilles tendons and can answer any questions you may have about your procedure or healing.
READ MORE: Achilles Heel Injuries in Gymnasts
Keeping your Achilles tendon strong and protecting your feet and ankles during activity can help reduce the chances of a strain or rupture. Perform calf-raises to keep muscles in shape and vary your activities, so you aren’t putting the same stresses on your feet all the time. Watch yourself during high-risk activities such as jumping or running. If you think you have strained or ruptured your Achilles tendon, call the FAAWC today. Our urgent care access means getting the care you need, right when you need it. Call 740-363-4373 today!
We always think of spring as the time of new birth, but in fact August holds the prize as the month with the highest birth rate for women in the US. Since 7/10 pregnant women report foot and ankle problems, it’s a good idea to take a look at why. Ruling out all the obvious problems stemming from the massive changes going on inside your body, one culprit that we can avoid are high heels. There are a lot of myths concerning the health risk of high heels during pregnancy, but the truth is they’re not going to magically harm you, but there are risks to wearing high heels (or really any non-supportive shoe) while pregnant. There three main reasons for this:
- Change to the center of gravity - Women gain weight during pregnancy, this is a fact that is often over-dramatized, but even if you keep a healthy diet and exercise, the life form inside you has volume and weight so you will inevitably being getting larger and heavier. This completely changes your center of gravity, pulling you forward and resulting in extra pressure on the knees and feet. High heels will also shift a woman’s center of gravity forward, compounding the problem. If you insist on high heels, choose something very low that offers support. Your feet will thank you.
- Muscles - Lot’s of fun things happen to your leg muscles when you’re pregnant. Cramps are a common symptom of muscle fatigue due to increased body weight. Hormones released during pregnancy will loosen the muscles and ligaments in the foot, so when we use our foot muscles too much with no support (like when we wear high heels), permanent changes to the foot can occur. Wear tennis shoes with Velcro or slip on shoes with arch support. If you must wear heels, do so for short periods of time and raise your feet afterwards to reduce swelling.
- Tripping - Remember that center of gravity thing we just talked about? Not only does that tilt women forward adding pressure to their feet with every step, it also makes them unstable, which can lead to a nasty fall. Technically, this can happen to anyone wearing high heels at any time, but if you’re pregnant a fall could mean serious complications for both mother and baby. It’s best to just go with a flat and supportive shoe that keeps you firmly planted on the ground.
While high heels are not the enemy, they should be avoided as much as possible during pregnancy to protect the health of everyone involved. Your muscles need support so that your feet can keep up with your kid for years to come.
Last week we talked about ankle sprains. Now we move on to the other side of the fence, ankle strains. Just looking at the words, you wouldn’t think there’s much of a difference, but there most certainly is.
As a reminder, a sprain is an injury to the ligaments connecting our bones. A sprain on the other hand, is an injury involving the muscles and tendons. Similar to sprains, there are varying degrees of injury with strains. Sometimes, a strain could be a tiny stretch in the muscle due to overuse. Other times, a strain could be a complete tear in the muscle-tendon combination.
Our muscles are made up of bundles of fibers that gradually form into tendons that connect to our bones. In order to move our bodies, the muscle fibers and tendon fibers will contract and lengthen. When we over stretch these muscles, we end up with a strain. The bad thing about strains is that they can happen just as easily from a one time stressful event as they can from long periods of over use. The other problem with strains is that the injury could occur solely in the muscle, solely in the tendon, or at the intersection of both. Your podiatrist can determine where your strain has occurred and how severe it is.
The good thing about strains is that the general treatment for them is the same as a sprain. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE) is the first step and may be combined with stability wraps, support boots, staying off the affected area, or in the severe cases, surgery.
So no matter whether you have a sprain or a strain, start with RICE and then call your podiatrist to book an appointment. Chronic sprains or strains weaken our bodies over time, so even if the pain goes away on its own, you still want to make an appointment to discuss with your doctor the underlying causes and form a healthy plan to modify your activities. So forget Google-ing your pain away, whether it’s a sprain or strain, the FAAWC has the best answer.
“Tendon rupture”, the words send a chill down every athlete’s spine. Even if you have never experienced anything like a ruptured tendon, just the thought of it is enough to make people stop and change the way they take care of their feet. Your Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to your heel. These muscles are necessary for proper movement of the foot and leg and are paramount to the most basic of movements such as walking, running, and jumping.
It should be unsurprising then when I tell you that athletes who perform these actions with great or sudden force are the most likely to experience this kind of rupture. Sprinters pushing off for a sprint, tennis players suddenly changing direction to go after a ball, gymnasts flying off a springboard onto a vault, all of these actions involve direct and suddenforce on the Achilles tendon, which can cause a sudden rupture.
So how do you know if you have ruptured your Achilles tendon? The first and most common sign is a loud popping sound heard from the back of the heel at the time of injury. This is followed by pain and weakness. Mobility of the foot and leg will be immediately limited and tenderness, swelling, and redness will appear at the site of injury. In other words, you will definitely know if you have fully ruptured your Achilles tendon. Sometimes however, with a partial rupture, the pain is manageable, mobility and strength in the foot are only partially restricted, and some swelling or bruising may appear later.
Your podiatrist can determine if and how badly you have ruptured your tendon with an examination and testing. Many ruptures can be treated with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Anti-inflammatory medicines can help reduce swelling as well. Your doctor may also issue you a heel lift, to reduce strain on the tendon as it is healing. For severe ruptures, casts and/or surgery may be necessary.
Some simple things you can do to avoid a rupture include increasing physical activity gradually, wearing supportive and well-fitting shoes, reducing uphill running, and resting from activity if you feel tightness or strain in the back of your calf. Many people who rupture their Achilles tendon also suffered previously from tendonitis, so if you doctor has diagnosed you with or told you that you are at risk for tendonitis, keep a close eye on how your legs and feet feel during and after exercise.
We at the FAAWC are all about keeping you in the game and performing at your top level. If you experience any persistent pain in your foot or calf, don’t hesitate to make an appointment. A little prevention could save you months of recovery.