Question:Our daughter is taking martial arts including judo. Whenever she practices using one foot to hook the opponent's legs, she get shooting pain in her ankle. Sometimes she says there's numbness and tingling. The problem seems to be getting worse. What should we do? She hates to give up judo.
Answer:It may be best to make an appointment with your family physician or orthopedic surgeon. A physical exam, X-rays, and possibly other imaging tests are needed to identify the problem.
Symptoms that occur with movement or action suggest a musculoskeletal problem. It could be a bone fracture, joint impingement, or muscle strain. Ligaments, tendons, joint capsule, nerves, or any other soft tissue could be part of the problem. Without specific testing, it would be difficult to say what is the problem.
The doctor can examine the foot and ankle and perform specific tests to help rule in or rule out various problems. The type of symptoms your daughter is describing may point to a condition some athletes have called tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS). With TTS, the tibial nerve gets pinched, pressed, or stretched as it passes through a tunnel formed by the bones of the ankle.
If this is the problem, the symptoms will gradually get worse. Sometimes the pain, numbness, and tingling last even after the aggravating motion is stopped. Early diagnosis and treatment is always best. Sometimes a simple solution is possible. Waiting too long may mean less chance for full recovery.Mitsuo Kinoshita, MD, et al. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome in Athletes. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. August 2006. Vol. 34. No. 8. Pp. 1307-1312.
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