Injuries can happen at anytime, during practice, your big game and even off the field. Worried about your sprain affecting your sporting career? No need to worry as Illinois Bone & Joint Institute (IBJI) orthopedic surgeon Brian Weatherford, MD, tells us the impact of lateral ankle sprains for athletes like you.

If you’re an athlete, an underlying fear is the potential you have to sustain an injury. Professional athletes such as Chicago Cubs First Baseman, Anthony Rizzo, suffered a lateral right ankle sprain from rolling his ankle on the field this season. Dr. Weatherford is an orthopedic surgeon with fellowship training in both foot and ankle and trauma surgery. He has treated this injury for several sports and explains what an athlete can expect for recovery.

Lateral ankle sprains can result during practice and game play. “In baseball, they are commonly caused from stepping on bases. For basketball players, sudden cutting and pivoting or even landing on another player's foot while in the air can lead to this injury,” says Weatherford. He additionally sees them in soccer, when a player cuts during an attack and in football from landing the wrong way after jumping toward the ball.

In the event of an injury, it is important to seek help when the pain is evident and persistent. Dr. Weatherford emphasizes the importance of seeing a fellowship-trained orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon, as he says, “The vast majority of these injuries do not require immobilization beyond a supportive ankle brace. The patient should begin physical therapy as soon as possible to minimize the impact of the injury.” 

Many high school athletes may worry that an injury poses a threat to their future careers. Luckily, Dr. Weatherford says that the athlete will make a full recovery and that “90-95% of lateral ankle sprains will not require surgery.” Depending on the severity of the injury, recovery could take anywhere between two to six weeks or more. “Full recovery from severe sprains can last up to three months to gain full proprioception and balance,” says Weatherford. 

The role of the orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist are vital to get you back in the game. With a solid recovery plan, the athlete will be able to perform at 100%.

If you need quick information on where to go for your injury, download IBJI’s Sports Access app. The app provides you with our OrthoAccess immediate care clinic locations for quick, convenient care.

Dr. Brian Weatherford, MD, is an Orthopedic Surgeon with fellowship training in both foot and ankle and trauma surgery. His areas of special interest include arthritis of the ankle, post-traumatic conditions of the lower extremity and deformity correction.

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