The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Penguins’ Letang’s Season of Setbacks: Common Ice Hockey Foot Injuries and Treatment

Posted by on Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

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“This was once the dressing room of champions. Now the Pittsburgh Penguins’ room is just another locker room full of guys simply not good enough to get it done,” writes Scott Burnside for ESPN.com. The Penguins’ loss to the NY Rangers in game 7 was a huge bummer for fans. Being from New York City, we’re not crying much at The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine… but we do sympathize. A lot of emotions get wrapped up into a sport season you’ve followed all year. Perhaps the Penguins would have had better luck if they hadn’t lost one of their biggest stars, Kris Letang, who allegedly broke his foot in game six, although his agent denies the foot injury rumors. Foot injuries are a unfortunately common setback in the world of ice hockey. We examine which setbacks plague players the most, and the appropriate treatment.

letang foot
Penguins heavyweight Kris Letang ended his season with a possible broken foot and hand.
Image Source: Michael Miller via Wikimedia.org

Kris Letang 2014 Injury Report

It’s been a rough year for defenseman Kris Letang. The 27-year-old, $58 million player has had a rough season, playing in just 37 of 82 regular season games due to injury. During those games, he was a real powerhouse, with 11 goals and 11 assists. Yet, like many other pro athletes, his grueling schedule and inability to fully rest and recover caused a series of unending injury reports.

Early in the season, he was out nine games with a lower body injury. A few months after that, he missed another 10 games with an upper body injury. One month later, he suffered a stroke, which caused him to miss 29 games over the next 10 weeks. Now, he is off four weeks in the post-season to rest his broken foot, as well as a broken hand.

Reports emerged that Letang broke his foot after a puck careened off it. Yet, he was able to play in game 7 — that is, until he broke his hand. It is possible for players to continue playing through the pain if the bones do not become displaced. Later, his agent cleared up rumors of the broken foot. It’s possible Letang’s foot injury was a bone bruise or contusion, which can be just as painful.

ice hockey foot injuries
Foot injuries account for 11% of all ice hockey injuries.

Types of Ankle & Foot Injuries in Ice Hockey

Foot injuries are common among ice hockey players. According to Podiatry Today“Lower extremity injuries account for approximately 27% of all hockey injuries with 11% occurring in the foot.”

Here is a rundown of ice hockey ankle and foot injuries we treat at The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine in New York:

– Ankle Sprains: Thankfully, the stiff skating boots and lack of jumping motion make ankle sprains a relatively rare occurrence, although we sometimes see players injured when the skate catches an ice rut and forcefully rotates the ankle awkwardly. In addition to taking an x-ray to confirm the level of injury and advising immediate compression, ice, and elevation, we can help players go through a rehabilitation program that includes proprioception training, non-weight-bearing cycling, and range-of-motion activities. In cases of severe instability, we may need to perform an open fixation with a screw to hold the ankle in place while it heals. Players may also be advised to use a walking boot or crutches. Most players will be back skating within three to six weeks. Surgery may require an additional 15 to 18 weeks of recovery.

– Tendon Inflammation: Often called “skate bite,” inflammation of the anterior ankle and dorsum of the foot is a common foot injury caused by skate lace pressure. Sometimes the veins become compressed, causing warmth and aching that progresses to swelling and pain. If left untreated, scar tissue may form and result in the need for surgery. We’ll outfit players with a protective skate cushion and advise NSAID pain relievers, as well as icing.

– Foot and Toe Fractures: Most foot injuries include contusions (deep bruising) and fractures when pucks and sticks hit them.The navicular and fifth metatarsal regions of the foot are most commonly injured. Treatment for a foot fracture involves four to eight weeks of immobilization. A player can return to play within a matter of days with a toe fracture. Displaced bones require several weeks off the ice.

The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine treats both amateur and professional athletes:

New York Sports Medicine Doctors

The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine is accepting new patients in the Manhattan and Westchester regions. We specialize in the treatment of athletes, including those with ice hockey foot injuries, with a focus on alleviating acute pain and rehabilitating players to return to the ice quicker and healthier. Book your appointment now! 

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.