When the New York Giants’ running back Saquon Barkley went down with an injury, an MRI confirmed that he experienced an ankle sprain, which sidelined him for 4-8 weeks. Many of our patients who are Giants fans asked me why the star running back was out for so long. Is the Giants’ medical staff being overly cautious or is the injury really that serious? Let’s use this opportunity to understand ankle sprains.
Ankle sprains typically fall into two categories—low and high. The ankles are the meeting point for 3 bones— the tibia, the fibula, and the talus. These bones are connected to the ankle joint by ligaments or flexible bands of connective tissue and tendons. During a sprain, your ligaments get stretched beyond their limit and get damaged.
Low vs. High Ankle Sprain
Image: Irina, Pintrest
Low Ankle Sprains: Low ankle sprains are the most common type of ankle injury and occur when you roll your ankle. In an inversion
ankle sprain the ankle rolls inwards and over stretches the connective ligaments. You can also roll your ankle outward and that is called an eversion ankle sprain. As with inversion ankle sprains, the ligaments connecting the bones to the ankle joint are stretched to the point of damage.
If you have experienced a low ankle injury, please contact our offices to make an appointment immediately. For mild to moderate sprains, we can recommend the best brace for your injury. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may require longer treatment options.
**High Ankle Sprains: **A high ankle sprain happens when the foot or ankle rotate outwardly. The injury occurs because the tissues connecting your leg bones—the tibia and the fibula—stretch to the point of injury. Since this injury takes place above the ankle, it is called a high ankle injury. High ankle sprains typically involve more pain and longer recovery period.
Because high ankle sprains are generally more serious in nature, the treatment varies and specific to each patient. If you have experienced a high ankle sprain, contact us immediately for an evaluation. Whether your goal is to get back on the field or simply go on walks without pain, our doctors will work with you to create treatment plan that best fits your needs.
Treatment and Recovery:
Every injury is unique and so too is the recovery period. But generally speaking, ankle sprains are treated firstly with the RICE protocol. This means, Rest. Ice. Compress. Elevate. After examining your sprain and making sure there are no broken bones, we determine the grade of your sprain from mild to severe.
Grade 1: Mild swelling and tenderness. Slight ligament stretching with microscopic tears.
**Grade 2: **Moderate swelling and tenderness. Partial ligament tear. Ankle joint may have an abnormal looseness.
**Grade 3: **Major swelling and tenderness. Complete ligament tear. Significant instability of the ankle joint.
Depending on the severity of your ankle injury, the treatment can include rest, ice applications, range of motion exercises, braces—which also vary depending on the seriousness of the injury—anti-inflammatory medications, crutches, air-boots, immobility, etc. In some rare cases, the injury may require surgery. The recovery time depends on various factors, from the severity of ligament damage to following treatment protocol. The recovery can last from 3 days to 3 weeks, and maybe longer.
And now back to Saquon Barkley. As Ben Weinrib of Yahoo! Sports mentions, rushing the Giants’ stud running back could have serious repercussions. Ankle sprains, especially high ankle sprains, need time. One of Saquon’s best attributes is his explosiveness. If he returns to the field too soon, he risks losing that skill. Worst of all, if the Giants bring back Saquon too early, he can reinjure his ankle and cause even more damage. So, the Giants are making the right decision by being conservative with Saquon Barkley’s high ankle sprain. The NFL is full of players who came back too soon and could not perform at the highest level.
Saquon Barkley’s ankle injury and his calls to beat his recovery time table highlight a very important point: we tend to downplay ankle sprains. But if ignored or not properly treated, ankle sprains can have lifelong effects. In fact, new studies show that a single ankle sprain could change how you move for your entire life. Do not ignore your ankle sprain even if it only hurts a little. Make an appointment with us today so we can evaluate your injury and provide the treatment that best fits you.