Back-to-School Soccer Season


Parents and coaches should think twice before coaxing young, injury-prone soccer players to “play through” foot and ankle pain, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

“Skeletally immature kids, starting and stopping and moving side to side on cleats that are little more than moccasins with spikes–-that’s a recipe for foot and ankle sprains and worse,” cautions Christopher Hendrix, DPM, FACFAS, a Memphis, Tenn. foot and ankle surgeon.

“Kids will play with lingering, nagging heel pain that, upon testing, turns out to be a stress fracture that neither they, their parents nor their coaches were aware of,” he said. “By playing with pain, they can’t give their team 100 percent and make their injuries worse, which prolongs their time out of soccer.”

Hendrix said he has actually had to show parents x-rays of fractures before they’ll take their kids out of the game. “And stress fractures can be subtle–-they don’t always show up on initial x-rays.”

Stress fractures, Achilles tendonitis, heel pain, ankle sprains, broken toes

Symptoms of stress fractures include pain during normal activity and when touching the area and swelling without bruising. Treatment usually involves rest and sometimes casting. Some stress fractures heal poorly and often require surgery, such as a break in the elongated bone near the little toe, known as a Jones fracture.

Constant running in soccer can place excessive stress on the foot. Pain from overuse usually stems from inflammation, such as around the growth plate of the heel bone, more so than a stress fracture, according to Hendrix.

“Their growth plates are still open and bones are still growing and maturing–-until they’re about 13 to 16. Rest and, in some cases, immobilization of the foot should relieve that inflammation,” he said.

Hendrix added that Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis (heel pain caused by inflammation of the tissue extending from the heel to the toes) are other types of overuse injuries.

Quick, out-of-nowhere ankle sprains are also common to soccer.

“Ankle sprains should be evaluated by a foot and ankle surgeon to assess the extent of the injury,” said Hendrix. “If the ankle stays swollen for days and is painful to walk or even stand on, it could be a fracture,” Hendrix said.

Collisions between soccer players take their toll on toes.

“When two feet are coming at the ball simultaneously, that ball turns into cement block and goes nowhere. The weakest point in that transaction is usually a foot, with broken toes the outcome,” he explained. “The toes swell up so much the player can’t get a shoe on, which is a good sign for young athletes and their parents: If they are having trouble just getting a shoe on, they shouldn’t play.”

Treat injuries immediately

If you think your child has suffered any sort of foot or ankle soccer injury, consult a foot and ankle surgeon right away.

Ouch! Young Soccer Players Sidelined by Painful Toes


This is a bad time of year to be a juvenile toenail.

The doctors at New Age Foot & Ankle Surgery sees a lot of children with ingrown toenails during fall soccer season.

It seems like every child is enrolled in a league, the young kids wear hand-me-down cleats that don’t fit exactly right. The older kids like tighter cleats to get a better feel for the ball and the field.

These tight shoes crowd the toes together. Combine that with repetitive kicking, and you’ve got a recipe for painful ingrown toenails. Such a small problem with such big pain. If you hit the corner of that affected toe, it shoots an intense pain that lingers.

Many of these kids don’t tell their parents about the problem because they’re afraid to miss a game. By the time they  get to the office, they’ve got a good infection brewing.

Young soccer players sidelined by an ingrown toenail may be able to get back into the game pain-free thanks to a simple, 10-minute surgical procedure. New Age Foot & Ankle Surgery can cure ingrown toenails, permanently using  common treatment. And the doctors great bed-side manner helps calm the patients.

During the short procedure, the foot and ankle surgeon numbs the toe and removes the offending portion of the nail. Various techniques can permanently remove part of a nail’s root too, preventing it from growing back. Most children experience very little pain afterwards, and can resume normal activity the next day.  But this procedure can not (normally) be done if the infection have become sever.  Antibiotics will need to be taken for a few days and then the procedure can be done.  This will be decided by the doctor during the office visit and discussed with the parents.

Parents should teach their children how to trim their toenails properly. Our foot & ankle surgeons are more than happy to teach both you and your child the proper techniques in person, but basically: trim toenails in a fairly straight line, do not curve the edges, and don’t cut them too short. Parents are urged to make sure their children’s cleats fit, since a child’s shoe size can change within a single soccer season. If a child develops a painful ingrown toenail, soaking their foot in room-temperature water and gently massaging the side of the nail fold can reduce the inflammation, until you can get to your podiatrist office.