Lacrosse, like many other sports, can bring incredible joy and fulfillment to players’ lives. However, with the thrill of the game comes the risk of injuries. The running and side-to-side cutting movements, integral to the game, can cause several injuries to the foot and ankle. In this article, we will discuss some of the common injuries that lacrosse players experience and what you should do if you suspect an injury.
Inversion ankle sprains are the most common injury in lacrosse. When the foot is twisted forcefully or lands awkwardly, it can damage the ligaments in the ankle. Besides the impact to the ankle, this type of injury is also associated with peroneal tendon injuries and fractures. If you experience pain, swelling or difficulty moving your foot, you might have sprained your ankle. Ankle sprains are graded I-III based on severity.
Grade I: Mild stretching of the ligament with only minimal tear.
Grade II: Partial tear of the ligament with moderate pain and swelling.
Grade III: Complete tear of the ligament with severe pain and instability.
The severity of the injury will determine the course of treatment. In some cases, depending on the severity, it may recommend immobilization, rest, and ice. Grade III ankle sprains may require surgery.
Ankle fractures, metatarsal fractures, and Lisfranc fractures are less common than ankle sprains but can sideline athletes and sometimes require surgery to repair. A fracture is a serious injury and not one that should be ignored. If you have pain, swelling, bruising, or difficulty walking after a fall or collision, it’s essential to see a doctor and get an X-ray. Fractures are graded I-V based on severity.
Grade I: Hairline fracture that may not require immobilization.
Grade II: Incomplete fracture that may need casting or a brace.
Grade III: Full fracture that may require surgery.
Grade IV: Displaced full fracture that requires the bone to be realigned before surgery.
Grade V: Severe fracture that involves bone fragmentation and may take several months to heal.
Overuse and excessive training can lead to several foot and ankle conditions. Lacrosse players whose feet touch the ground frequently experience plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, sesamoiditis, stress fractures, posterior tibial tendonitis (or PTTD), and calcaneal apophysitis in children and adolescents. It’s essential to identify these types of injuries early on so that they don’t develop into something more severe.
Plantar Fasciitis: This inflammation of the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot can cause significant pain. Treatment options may include physical therapy, stretching exercises, night splints, and in some cases, surgery.
Achilles Tendinitis: Achilles tendinitis is inflammation of the Achilles tendon that connects the heel bone to the calf muscle. This injury typically occurs from overuse and requires rest and physical therapy to heal.
Sesamoiditis: An injury to the sesamoid bones in the ball of the foot, sesamoiditis is often caused by increased pressure on the area. Treatment can include rest and ice, physical therapy, and custom orthotics.
Stress Fractures: These small breaks in the bone occur from overuse and are most common in the feet and lower legs. Treatment typically involves rest, immobilization, and physical therapy.
Posterior Tibial Tendonitis: This tendonitis affects the posterior tibial tendon that connects the calf to the inside of the ankle. Rest and physical therapy can help patients recover from this injury.
Calcaneal Apophysitis: This injury affects children and adolescents and can cause significant heel pain. Rest and physical therapy can help manage the pain.
Injuries are part of any sport, but proactive measures can help reduce the risk. If you experience a foot or ankle injury while playing lacrosse, prompt evaluation is critical to determine the best course of treatment. DPM Gilbert Huang is a foot and ankle surgeon who specializes in sports injuries. He would be happy to help you manage your foot and ankle condition. Remember that early treatment of injuries can help you return to the sport you love faster and with less risk of further injury.