An article from NFL.com shares some interesting news. More bad news for the Carolina Panthers as they were stripped by the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday with a 38-10 loss and lost running back DeAngelo Williams to an ankle injury.

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Williams, recovering from a thigh injury, was exited out the game during the second quarter. Later on, after halftime, he was spotted wearing a cast on his foot due to the high ankle sprain.

What is a high ankle sprain?

The high ankle sprain ligaments are located above the ankle, as opposed to the more commonly injured ligaments on the outside of the ankle. These high ankle ligaments connect the tibia to he fibula. It is important to have stability between the tibia and fibula at this level because walking and running place a tremendous amount of force at the junction.

A high ankle sprain occurs when there is tearing and damage to the high ankle ligaments. These injuries are much less common than a traditional ankle sprain.

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What are the signs & symptoms of a high ankle sprain?

A high ankle sprain occurs from a twisting or rotational injury. The high ankle sprain also can occur in the setting of an ankle fracture, which means the bones of the ankle are broken. In some cases, the ligament on the inside of the ankle, the deltoid, will be torn. In this event, the energy of the injury passes from the deltoid, through the high ankle ligaments, or syndesmosis, and up the leg through the fibula. This causes the fibula to be broken at a very high level. This type of fracture is called a Maisonneuve fracture. Patients with a high ankle sprain without fracture may be able to bear weight, but will have pain over the junction between the tibia and fibula just above the level of the ankle. This is higher than the more traditional sprains.

What causes a high ankle sprain?

​High ankle sprains occur from rotational injuries, much like ankle fractures. They are common in sports, especially impact sports. An external rotation, when the foot is turned towards the outside with respect to the leg, most commonly causes these tears.

How long is the recovery?

The recovery for high ankle sprains can take considerably longer than typical ankle sprains. In fact, it can take six to seven weeks before athletes return to play. In those cases in which a separation of the tibia and fibula or fracture has occurred and surgery is necessary, patients will likely need to be nonweightbearing in a cast followed by a walking boot for about 12 weeks. It is important to do early range of motion passively, meaning with the help of a therapist that moves the ankle, so help avoid stiffness. The screws are commonly taken out in a second, small surgery before full weightbearing is allowed so they will not break.

Outcomes are generally good if the injury is recognized and treated appropriately. It is more likely, however, to have some stiffness of the ankle after a high ankle sprain as compared to a standard ankle sprain. This is especially true if a fracture has occurred.

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The Panthers are looking at a rugged schedule with games against the Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, & Green Bay Packers. With Jonathan Stewart (knee) and Mike Tolbert (leg) both inactive, the Panthers are going to have a tough season.

For more questions or concerns about injuries and high ankle sprains, please contact us & we’ll answer them all!