Would the NY Giants have won the Super Bowl with healthy Rob Gronkowski?

Congratulations to the NY Giants on wining the 2011-2012 NFL Super Bowl! Would it have been possible with a healthy Rob Gronkowski, the touchdown machine for the Patriot who suffered a high ankle sprain before the super bowl? Rob set the NFL touchdown record this seasonal year but was limited during the super bowl due to high ankle sprain. What is a high ankle sprain?

A high ankle sprain, also known as a syndesmotic ankle sprain, is a sprain of the syndesmotic ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula on the lower leg. Syndesmotic ankle sprains are known as high because their location on the lower leg is above the ankle. Unlike common ankle sprains when ligaments around the ankle are torn or receive injury through an inward twisting, high ankle sprains are caused when the lower leg and foot twist out. Anyone can get a high ankle sprain if the outward twisting is present although it is most common with athletes.

Athletes with high ankle sprains usually come to a physician, physical therapist, athletic trainer or other specialist complaining of a dull or sharp pain in the outside-front of the lower leg above the ankle. The pain is usually sharper when twisting is applied. In other cases the high ankle sprain is diagnosed only after treatment for the common ankle sprain fails. High ankle sprains may be harder to diagnose than normal ankle sprains because swelling is usually minor or nonexistent. For this reason some may underestimate the severity of the injury. The physical therapist, athletic trainer, or physician will test for high ankle sprain in a number of ways. The most common approach is the squeeze test (squeezing the calf or lower leg, usually with slight turning). CT scans or radiographs are sometimes used for diagnosis or to check for displacement of the tibia and fibula.

Treatment of high ankle sprains depends on severity. An athlete may be out for as little as 2–3 days or as long as 6 months. Minor high ankle sprains can be healed by reducing movement of the lower leg and foot with a brace or cast. Like common ankle sprains using the PRICE technique works well

  • Protection (from further injury)
  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression (wrapping, splint or cast)
  • Elevation

When a high ankle sprain is diagnosed the doctor will determine if the injury is stable or unstable. Stable injuries are the less severe high ankle sprains when the placement of the tibia and fibula stays normal. Unstable high ankle sprains occur when two or all three syndesmotic ligaments are torn and the tibia and fibula are free to move around. Unstable injuries require more treatment, and usually surgery. During the surgery one or two screws are inserted in the lower leg for a few months (usually three) or until the ligaments have reformed and are able to hold the bones in the proper position. When surgery is needed, recovery can take 6 months or longer.

Rob Gronkowski suffered an unstable high ankle sprain and had to go for arthroscopic ankle surgery to repair the ankle ligaments. What is ankle arthroscopy?

Ankle arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that uses a fiber-optic viewing camera and small surgical tools to operate in and around the ankle joint through small incisions. Ankle arthroscopy is performed for the surgical evaluation and treatment of a variety of ankle conditions. Arthroscopic surgery can have a quicker recovery time than traditional open surgery.

  • You may need ankle arthroscopy if you have debris in your ankle from torn cartilage or from a bone chip. Also, if there is ligament damage from a severely sprained ankle, a bone surgeon may choose to do an arthroscopy to evaluate the extent of damage and possibly to repair it.
  • For some people, arthroscopy means a speedier recovery, less scarring, and fewer complications than open surgery.

Our office does treat all related Athletic sport injuries including high ankle sprain and we are well trained in surgical management of these injuries when needed including arthroscopic surgeries. If you know anyone with sport related injuries or with ankle arthritis/pain, please refer them to our video library or Gentle Touch Foot Care for evaluation and proper treatment.