Baseball is one of the fastest growing youth sports in America. In general, it’s also one of the safest sports as the injury rate is 2-8%. In 2012, there were over 250,000 injuries requiring a trip to the emergency room. Most injuries are acute–that wild pitch that hits a player. Baseball injuries to the foot and ankle include such things as sprains, tendonitis, fractures, bruises, dislocations, nail injury, and heel pain.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries not only in baseball, but all sports. The starting/stopping, jumping, and side to side movement will cause sprains. Even sliding into a base can result in a sprain as something has to give and it’s not the base. The most common risk factor is a previous ankle sprain. Managing an ankle sprain right after injury is critical t the success of healing. The old adage of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) should be changed to PRICE with the P being protection. Stretching, bracing, taping, balance program are all ways to prevent a sprain. Ankle sprains can be a serious injury leading to loss of practice and game time so don’t ignore the significance of one if it does occur.
Tendonitis, which is considered an overuse injury, can occur anywhere on the foot, but is most common in the achilles. Pain on the back of the heel or above the attachment is the location of achilles tendonitis. Chronic pain and inflammation can lead to a rupture, which is a bad injury. Rarely in youth athletes will one see a tendon rupture, but for that weekend warrior type, it can be very common injury that often requires surgery.
Discolored toenails are another common baseball injury. Purple or black discoloration under the toenail is a sign of some type of trauma–a pitch that was fouled off, stepped on by another player, or even a baseball cleat that is too small. Generally, if more than 50% of the nail is involved, the nail is going to come off. Sometimes the blood can be drained if caught early so not to lose the nail.
One of the most common injuries I see is heel pain in kids 8-14. Often called Sever’s disease or apophysitis. While not exclusive to baseball, any cleated sport whether its baseball, soccer, football, etc, can lead to this. Pain is present with activity and usually relieved with rest. Rarely is there swelling or redness. If you squeeze the heel and there is pain, it’s usually Sever’s, which is inflammation of the growth plate in the heel bone. Stretching, icing, anti-inflammatories, heel cups/cushions are options, but often times, an orthotic from a podiatrist is needed for rapid resolution of the symptoms. With proper treatment, and early identification of symptoms, treatment can result in no loss time of practice or games.
While this blog wasn’t intended to be all inclusive, some of the more common injuries I see were covered. There are several other types of injuries that can, and do occur. If concerned, don’t hesitate to contact a sports podiatrist to be evaluated. At Boulder County Foot and Ankle, we treat all kinds of sports injuries whether its running, baseball, soccer, football, basketball, etc so don’t hesitate to contact us with any type of sports injury.