Date: 3/30/2009

Sprain, Sprain go Away…Spring is the Season for Foot and Ankle Injuries

HOBART — Spring often awakens the ambitions of amateur athletes who are ready to get back on their feet after a long winter of restricted activity. Warmer weather and longer days inspire many to hit the basketball and tennis courts or take long jogs through the neighborhood.

But along with this new surge of activity, comes an increase in foot and ankle injuries in the form on sprains, strains, and foot pain, according to Ahmad El-Samad, DPM, certified foot and ankle surgeon and medical director of diabetes limb salvage at St. Mary Medical Center.

“Sprains, blisters and heel pain are some of most common sports injuries this time of year,” says El-Samad. “Individuals need to prepare themselves with appropriate warm-ups and conditioning and make sure they have the correct footwear for their activity.”

Footwear that provides the correct foot and ankle support is vital to preventing all sorts of potential problems, says El-Samad. “You shouldn’t wear running shoes for a sport that requires a lot of side-to-side movement like tennis or basketball.”

El-Samad also suggests athletes of all skill levels check with their physician or podiatrist to determine if they have any deformities or skin conditions that could lead to future problems before beginning any new activity or purchasing new athletic shoes.

“You want to pay special attention to any skin anomalies such as calluses and blisters,” says El-Samad. “Those not only signal ill-fitting footwear, but may also indicate a structural problem in the foot.”

While El-Samad specializes in reconstruction and evaluation of foot and limb conditions in diabetes patients, his background also includes service at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, working to keep military personnel foot and ankle pain free. During that time, he was able to perform a high number of trauma and deformity reconstructions — experience he uses today to help patients identify and prevent foot and ankle problems.

“Whether you’re in the military or just a weekend warrior, repeated ankle sprains can lead to chronic instability and cause your ankle to constantly ‘give way’,” says El-Samad. “Proper rehabilitation after a sprain can reduce the likelihood of this condition, and of course, always wear an ankle brace if you’ve sprained your ankle before.”

El-Samad adds that athletes should seek evaluation by a foot and ankle surgeon whether it’s their first sprain or the fifth, especially if rest, icing and elevation don’t reduce the swelling.

“What may be mistaken for a sprain may actually be a fracture,” says El-Samad. “Seek medical attention when needed, but a little preparation and a few preventative measures can go a long way to having a ‘sprain-free’ Spring.”

St. Mary Medical Center offers podiatric and physical therapy services to individuals seeking help for issues of the foot and ankle related to diabetes, injuries or other conditions. Services are available at the main hospital in Hobart or at the Winfield Family Health Center located at 10607 Randolph Street. For more information, call our physician referral line at 219-836-3477 or 1-866-836-3477, or visit our website at