Pediatric Soccer Injuries of the Foot and Ankle

With fall sports in full swing, one of the more common consults we have been seeing in our offices is soccer related injuries in pediatric patients. If overlooked, these injuries can be devastating and lead to long term pain and disability.

Because of the fast pace and cutting movements involved in soccer, ankle sprains are fairly common. When the foot rolls under the ankle, this creates tension on the ankle ligaments. If the force is great enough, these ligaments can become “sprained” – meaning that they become elongated, and in some cases partially or even fully torn. There is immediate pain associated with an ankle sprain. But if these injuries linger, they can lead to long term stiffness and pain with activity. Identifying an ankle sprain is critical, as seeking immediate treatment can prevent the long term effects of these injuries. Management of ankle sprains includes x-rays to rule out bony injuries, immobilization with a walking boot or ankle brace, and physical therapy. Some practitioners may also recommend an anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and relieve pain.

Another common condition that affects young soccer players is Sever’s disease, also known as calcaneal apophysitis. This painful condition results from pain and swelling around the active growth plate in the back of the heel bone. This growth center appears around ages 7-8 and closes at 12-14 years of age. Children who are active and play fast paced sports such as soccer may irritate this growth center. Management of Sever’s disease includes rest or activity modification, shoe modification, icing, stretching of the Achilles tendon, and physical therapy. Because this condition is self-limiting and will cease to cause pain when the growth center closes, the goal of managing Sever’s disease is aimed at mitigating symptoms. 

While not often thought of as a sports injury, ingrown toe nails are common amongst young soccer players. The tight cleats worn while playing soccer combined with the trauma from kicking the ball can exacerbate and sometimes even cause ingrown toe nails. If left untreated, ingrown nails can become severely painful and can cause infection.

There are a myriad of injuries and pathologies seen in children who play soccer. Do not hesitate to bring your child in for evaluation so that they can be managed appropriately by the experts of Advanced Podiatry!

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