Clinical Review

Foot and Ankle Injuries in Soccer

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  • Soccer injuries of the foot and ankle are becoming more prevalent due to the ever-growing popularity of the sport.
  • Low ankle sprains represent the majority of foot and ankle–related injuries due to soccer and most can be treated non-operatively, with an early mobilization protocol followed by a phased rehabilitation.
  • High ankle sprains are less common than low ankle sprains; however, they require a lengthier rehabilitation and most of the time are treated surgically.
  • Impingement-like syndromes are common among soccer players and can be due to repetitive microtrauma from recurrent ball impact. Most of these syndromes respond favorably to non-operative modalities.
  • Stress fractures of the foot, although less common, often require surgical stabilization in soccer players.




The ankle is one of the most commonly injured joints in soccer and represents a significant cost to the healthcare system. The ligaments that stabilize the ankle joint determine its biomechanics—alterations of which result from various soccer-related injuries. Acute sprains are among the most common injury in soccer players and are generally treated conservatively, with emphasis placed on secondary prevention to reduce the risk for future sprains and progression to chronic ankle instability. Repetitive ankle injuries in soccer players may cause chronic ankle instability, which includes both mechanical ligamentous laxity and functional changes. Chronic ankle pathology often requires surgery to repair ligamentous damage and remove soft-tissue or osseous impingement. Proper initial treatment, rehabilitation, and secondary prevention of ankle injuries can limit the amount of time lost from play and avoid negative long-term sequelae (eg, osteochondral lesions, arthritis). On the other hand, high ankle sprains portend a poorer prognosis and a longer recovery. These injuries will typically require surgical stabilization. Impingement-like syndromes of the ankle can undergo an initial trial of conservative treatment; when this fails, however, soccer players respond favorably to arthroscopic debridement of the lesions causing impingement. Finally, other pathologies (eg, stress fractures) are highly encouraged to be treated with surgical stabilization in elite soccer players.



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