Although the Super Bowl proved to be not so “super” in terms of excitement, football fans were still eagerly anticipating the post-game interview with the Seahawk’s zany, self-proclaimed “best cornerback in the NFL,” Richard Sherman. But then, an unfortunate injury forced him out of the game in the fourth quarter. His diagnosis? A high ankle sprain, which occurred earlier in the game and was re-aggravated with only 11 minutes left on the clock.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries encountered by athletes, but you don’t need to be a professional (or even a weekend warrior) to experience this particular “twist” of fate. Know the difference between the common or lower ankle sprain and the more serious high ankle sprain, like the one suffered by Sherman.
In a common ankle sprain, the ligaments that are most often injured are the ones on the outside of the ankle. This generally happens when someone becomes unbalanced on the outside of the foot and “rolls” their ankle past its normal limit. Symptoms of a common ankle sprain include pain, swelling, or even bruising on the outside of the foot and around the ankle. Despite these symptoms, these types of sprains are usually not serious and most athletes are able to rebound quickly.
High ankle sprains, however, are much trickier to deal with and can keep an athlete out of the action for months. These sprains are usually caused by extreme external ankle rotation or by the foot being forcibly flexed upwards, causing tears in the high ankle ligaments. This often happens, as in the case of Sherman, when landing awkwardly after jumping or when making a quick change in direction. The symptoms of a high ankle sprain will vary according to severity, however the diagnosis is trickier due to the lack of swelling that occurs in comparison to common ankle sprains.
Immediate Treatment: When acute, both high and low ankle sprains are initially treated the same way – with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). But a cold pack and an Ace Bandage are not enough. See your Advanced Foot and Ankle Care physician to evaluate the type and severity of the injury and determine how to best stabilize and support your ankle. Your doctor can also diagnose secondary injuries to the bone, tendons, or nerves which may accompany a bad sprain. Get proper treatment immediately to speed healing and avoid further injury!
Treating Old Injuries: But what if you’ve let an injury go too long? You may be experiencing chronic pain or instability or a tendency to frequently re-injure your ankle. Your podiatrist can still help! Stabilization devices, custom orthotics, injections, or even surgery can be your path back to a healthy foot and ankle. Your doctor will devise a specific treatment plan to restore your ankle function and get you back in the game in no time!
You don’t have to be a professional football player to suffer an ankle sprain! If you suspect you have incurred either type of these sprains, the most important step in the treatment process is to promptly schedule an appointment with one of the highly qualified podiatric physicians at the Advanced Foot and Ankle Care Center location nearest you.