Children and young adults love the thrill of skateboarding. They learn to master their skills of "riding the rail" and "catching air." But according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), such tricks, while fun, can be physically demanding and cause serious foot and ankle injuries.
Foot and ankle surgeons around the country warn they continue to see serious lower-extremity skateboard injuries among their patients. These injuries range from minor bruises to open wounds or cuts to more serious foot and ankle sprains and fractures, which may require surgical repair.
Virginia-based foot and ankle surgeon, Jennifer Purvis, DPM, AACFAS, advises skateboarders to use caution and wear protective gear, including properly supportive shoes, when skateboarding. "Skateboarding can be particularly hard on your feet and ankles because of the impact caused when performing jumps and tricks," Dr. Purvis explains. "Skateboarders should be aware that the strain from repetitive, forceful motions can also cause painful foot and heel conditions such as plantar fasciitis, bone spurs and Achilles tendonitis, which may require more intensive, longer-term therapies," she said.
Even minor cuts or abrasions on your feet can cause serious problems. Dr. Purvis recently treated a 21-year-old skateboarder for scrapes on his feet and ankles that were not healing. Tests indicated he had contracted MRSA - a very serious and sometimes deadly staph infection, which required surgery and four weeks of antibiotic therapy.
Foot and ankle sprains and fractures are common skateboarding injuries. Karl Collins, DPM, FACFAS, who practices in St. Louis, stresses the importance of seeing a foot and ankle surgeon to ensure proper diagnosis and course of treatment for these injuries. Until you can be seen by a doctor, it is best to take a break from activities and use R.I.C.E. therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation), which helps to reduce pain and control swelling around the injury.
"A common misconception about foot and ankle fractures is that if you can walk on the foot, there isn't a fracture," Dr. Collins said. "That's not always the case, and only a proper diagnosis can rule out a serious injury requiring an advanced treatment plan."