Ankle injuries, including an ankle sprain, can plague us all. The man they call Megatron, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is one of the best to ever play the game. At 6’5” and 240, he looks like a man among boys at the wide receiver position. We often see him as unbreakable because of his build, his work ethic and his toughness. Throughout his 8-year career he has only missed 6 games despite dealing with a number of sprained knees, sprained ankles, concussions, and back problems. Unfortunately, Calvin Johnson is not entirely unbreakable, he is not part robot like his nickname suggests, and he is currently battling a high ankle sprain that has limited him for two games and caused him to miss the Lions game this week.
Ankle sprains are pretty fickle injuries, they can sometimes look very minimal and in fact, they are very minimal. Other times they look minimal but are actually much worse than they are as in the case of Calvin Johnson. I watched the injury occur and it looked like there was a slight roll of the ankle outwards as the weight of Calvin Johnson’s defender landed on it during the tackle. As it turns out it was more severe than it looked and it was diagnosed as a high-ankle sprain.
High-ankle sprains involve a sprain to the ligaments that are located above the ankle. These ligaments connect the shinbone (tibia) to the fibula (outer leg bone). Injuries to these ligaments most commonly occur when there is excessive rotation of the ankle. In the case of Calvin Johnson, you can see that his right ankle rolls in an outward fashion. This is called an eversion sprain and it causes the ligaments above the ankle to over-stretch. If the ligaments stretch is excessive enough it can actually cause the ligament to tear, microscopically, partially or completely.
The symptoms of a high ankle-sprain are dependent on the severity of the injury, but pain, bruising, swelling, and an inability to walk are the most common symptoms. The ankle sprain will be especially painful when attempting to rotate the ankle one way or another. As listed in the chart above, grade I ankle sprains are relatively inconsequential. As you move down the chart, the symptoms become more severe and the effects can be relatively devastating depending on your expected level of activity.
If there is no damage to the bones or bone structure, even the more severe ankles sprains will heal completely on their own within about 8 weeks. The treatment for a high ankle sprain begins with ice. You should ice the injury for about twenty minutes for every two hours. In addition, compression and elevation should be used to reduce swelling. Once weight bearing is possible, strengthening exercises should be used to strengthen your ankle and calf muscles.
While this injury may have derailed Calvin Johnson’s season thus far, there is no reason to believe that he will not be back on the field within two or three weeks. He is an extremely hard worker and as I sit here in my computer chair, snuggled in a blanket like a caterpillar in a freshly made cocoon, Calvin Johnson is probably at the Lions team facility strengthening that sprained ankle.
If you have ankle ankle injury or pain that affects your ability to function, contact our renowned sports medicine staff at Orthopedic Surgery San Diego Clinic.