It’s been great to see professional sports back in action over the past couple of months and as always, there are some interesting injuries that have occured. As a Podiatrist I see a wide variety of different injuries, both chronic and acute, so I’d like to share some parts of what I can see in the clinic.

I’ll cover a couple of the injuries that have happened in recent weeks and touch on things like mechanism of injury, acute treatment and ongoing rehabilitation journeys for those injuries. Some of you may have had these injuries in the past, and unfortunately some may experience these injuries in the future. But, feel free to use this as a database just in case. 

Turf Toe

For those who know me, I’m a die-hard Manly Sea Eagles fan – they’re quite possibly the greatest sporting club in history. I know that Manly are either a ‘love them or hate them club’, but their winger, Jason Saab, is a sight to behold at full flight. He has recently been diagnosed with a turf toe injury, which could keep him out for 3-5 weeks. So, what is it?

What is it?: Turf toe is the stretching of the ligaments underneath the big toe joint. This can result in inflammation of the joint secondary to ligament damage. We can use diagnostic tools such as MRI or ultrasound to determine the level of injury. 

Mechanism of injury: Excessive dorsiflexion, or movement of the big toe upwards. In Jason’s case, the foot was planted with the tackler landing on his heel – like in the photo to the right.

Treatment: Depending on the level of injury there is a scale of treatments that we can use. Taping the toe to reduce dorsiflexion can be great in the short term. Principles like PEACE + LOVE (check our instagram page for what this means) are also effective in the acute stages. If severe enough, immobilisation using an air walker/moon boot or surgery can also be an option. Once able, I typically begin strengthening those structures using a variety of exercises.

Return to sport: Typically these can take a minimum of 2-3 weeks for mild cases, but upwards of 10 weeks for severe. 

 

High Ankle Sprains

Jumping over to AFL now, rookie Brisbane Lions player Kai Lohmann has suffered a high ankle, or syndesmosis injury, which will likely sidelined him for a minimum of 6 weeks. These can be quite nasty, so a turn around time of 6 weeks is a good result. 

What is it?: High ankle sprains are different to a regular ankle sprain in the sense it involves the ligaments and membrane towards the end of the lower leg, just above the ankle. 

Mechanism of injury: These typically result from external rotation of the foot and internal rotation of the lower leg, which widens the gap between both long bones – the tibia and fibula. Depending on the load placed through the leg at the point of injury, these can cause injury to all three soft tissue structures of the high ankle, but may also result in a fracture. 

Treatment: Again, depending on the severity of injury there are a few pathways to take. PEACE + LOVE is certainly a good way to start until a complete understanding of which structures are injured. If a low grade is suspected, typically these are immobilised using an air walker/moon boot for 2-3 weeks, followed by balance and strength rehabilitation. If moderate to high grade, particularly if the joint is unstable and/or has a fracture, surgery is required to stabilise the ankle joint. 

Return to sport: Usually these are a minimum or 6-8 weeks, however if surgery is required these can be upwards of 12-16 weeks to return. 

 

There’s a couple of injuries from the professional sport setting. I’ll keep you up to date with some of the more common, but also some rarer injuries over the coming weeks. It’s been great to see so much sport being played since the Covid hiatus! As always, please get in touch with us if you have any injuries of the foot and ankle, we’re always happy to help!

Luke Webster

Podiatrist

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