New York City foot and ankle surgeon Lady Paula DeJesus, DPM, AACFAS notices an increase in ankle injuries among young athletes. Football, baseball, soccer and basketball are the sports most likely to lead to sprains, broken bones and other problems, she says.
Dr. DeJesus has offices throughout New York City, including Astoria, Brooklyn, and Middle Village. DeJesus will be expanding offices to Palm Beach County in the near future.
Dr. DeJesus' top recommendation for parents is to get ankle injuries treated right away.
"What seems like a sprain is not always a sprain; in addition to cartilage injuries, your son or daughter might have injured other bones in the foot without knowing it. Have a qualified doctor examine the injury," says DeJesus. "The sooner rehabilitation starts, the sooner we can prevent long-term problems like instability or arthritis, and the sooner your child can get back into competition."
Dr. DeJesus says parents should also follow these additional tips from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons' Web site, FootHealthFacts.org:
--Have old sprains checked by a doctor before the season starts. A medical check-up can reveal whether your child's previously injured ankle might be vulnerable to sprains, and could possibly benefit from wearing a supportive ankle brace during competition.
--Buy the right shoe for the sport. Different sports require different shoe gear. Players shouldn't mix baseball cleats with football shoes.
--Children should start the season with new shoes. Old shoes can wear down like a car tire and become uneven on the bottom, causing the ankle to tilt because the foot can't lie flat.
--Check playing fields for dips, divots and holes. Most sports-related ankle sprains are caused by jumping and running on uneven surfaces. That's why some surgeons recommend parents walk the field, especially when children compete in non-professional settings like public parks, for spots that could catch a player's foot and throw them to the ground. Alert coaching officials to any irregularities.
--Encourage stretching and warm-up exercises. Calf stretches and light jogging before competition helps warm up ligaments and blood vessels, reducing the risk for ankle injuries.
Dr. DeJesus can be contacted at 718-545-0205.
For more information on treating ankle sprains, visit the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons' patient information Web site, FootHealthFacts.org.