3 Common Tennis Foot Injuries: Treatment & Prevention
Posted by Jenn F. on Monday, November 5th, 2018
Now that the weather is cooler, New Yorkers have taken to the indoor courts to keep up their love of tennis. Tennis has many health benefits from increasing aerobic capacity and bone density to improving metabolic function and reaction times. However, the sheer speed of tennis opens us up to accidents and injuries, particularly to the feet and ankles. If you live in the New York City or White Plains area, The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine can diagnose and treat any lower extremity common tennis foot injuries with skill and efficiency.
3 Common Tennis Foot Injuries
1. Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury marked by tenderness and inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone. Most commonly, the tendon is injured 2-6 centimeters above where the soft tissue connects to the heel. Achilles tendon injuries may be acute flare-ups or chronic with enduring pain. Significant increases in activity or long-term repetitive stresses can lead to micro-tears, with or without calcium deposits filling in the gaps or degenerative changes taking place.
Achilles Tendonitis is likely caused by a number of contributing factors. Overtraining or sudden increases in activity are common factors for injury. Biomechanically, we see a higher incidence in Achilles injuries among patients with calcaneal eversion, a flexible forefoot, a plantarflexed first ray, and/or abnormal pronation. The frequent changes in footwork, when coupled with abnormal pronation, causes a whipping of the tendon. Acute injuries can occur with a sudden roll of the ankle.
At-home treatment may include icing, topical gel, night splints, heel lifts, and rest. If you find it difficult to walk without a limp, we recommend using a Controlled Ankle Motion (CAM) walker boot for immobilization for two to four weeks, followed by a course of physical therapy rehabilitation to get back on track. Once the inflammation subsides, flexible custom orthotics can provide improved support and shock absorption to prevent injury recurrence.
2. Calcaneal Apophysitis
Tennis players between the ages of 8 and 14 years old, whose feet are still growing, may develop calcaneal apophysitis, sometimes referred to as “Sever’s Disease.” This tennis injury is characterized by muscle strain and painful inflammation in the heel’s growth plate. Repetitive stress from running and pounding on hard surfaces is the main driver of this injury, so we commonly see it in young tennis, soccer, basketball, and track stars. Obesity, a tight Achilles tendon, flatfoot, or high arches can also lead to a predisposition for this type of injury. Sufferers exhibit pain in the back or bottom heel and usually limp or walk on their toes. Fatigue commonly accompanies other symptoms.
Over time, calcaneal apophysitis generally resolves itself with reduced activity, but you should have your child closely monitored to be sure no complications arise. We may also recommend custom orthotic heel supports, special stretches, and immobilization if the pain is severe. To prevent this injury, we recommend placing your children in well-constructed, supportive tennis shoes and avoiding overly rigorous training schedules.
3. Plantar Fasciitis
Most active individuals will suffer plantar fasciitis at some point in life. This common tennis foot injury involves a micro-tearing of the plantar fascia located along the bottom arch, where the mid-foot connects to the heel. This region experiences a lot of repetitive stress and shock absorption during tennis. The inflammatory response causes intense localized pain at the medial tubercle of the os calcis. The pain is worst after taking the first few steps in the morning or during tennis warm-ups. The pain may diminish but often returns after periods of rest.
Without proper care, plantar fasciitis tends to worsen. Treatment involves icing, calf stretches, custom orthotics, oral anti-inflammatories, and switching to more supportive shoes. If the condition fails to resolve, injection therapy and night splints may be recommended. Custom orthotics are the best treatment for long-term relief and prevention.
See an NYC Sports Doctor for Common Tennis Foot Injuries
If you experience any tennis-related injury to the foot or ankle, it is imperative that you see a sports podiatrist immediately for an accurate diagnosis. It could be nothing and then you breathe a huge sigh of relief. But if there’s an issue, we want to be able to offer you the full range of treatment options, including non-invasive or minimally-invasive opportunities for self-care. Contact our team to get back on the court as quickly as possible.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. 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.