As part of our series on sports injuries, The Injury Clinic, we discussed The Ankle Sprain and its commonality in sports. Brian Cushing's injury while alarming appears to minor in nature and with SC being off next weekend he should be healed enough to be ready for the game against Nebraska.
While ankle sprains are classified in types or grades we often here them described by two terms, the High Ankle Sprain or the Low Ankle Sprain. Cushings injury is low ankle sprain.
In a low ankle sprain, the ligaments which hold the fibula to the dome of the ankle (the talus) are stretched or torn. These types of ankle sprains usually are more stable and can be treated with a program of taping and rehabilitation once the initial pain and swelling from the injury subside. Most athletes return back to activities by one to three weeks after injury.
In high ankle sprains, the membrane which connects the two leg bones (the syndomosis) is either stretched or torn. High ankle sprains can be especially problematic for athletes because there is a very poor blood supply to this area of the ankle and it takes a long time to heal. Any type of twisting or turning maneuver results in stretching of this area, which makes it especially difficult to play basketball, soccer, or to skate. Over time, athletes who have a high ankle sprain can often walk and even jog on level ground normally, but cannot push off on their skate edges and are limited in terms of their ability to return to activities. High ankle injuries can take six weeks or longer to heal.
Here is another great write-up from The Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail Colorado:
These are some great diagrams.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common orthopedic injuries, occurring equally in both sexes and all ages. These injuries are most often reported by athletes; although it is not uncommon to see ankle sprains in those who suddenly trip on a step, slip without warning or ignore feelings of fatigue during exercise. There are over one million ankle injuries each year and approximately 85% of these injuries are ankle sprains.
Ankle sprains occur in several forms: the high ankle sprain, the lateral ankle sprain, the medial ankle sprain, and the low ankle sprain. The high ankle sprain injures the ligaments connecting the two bones of the lower leg (the tibia and fibula) at the ankle joint. The medial ankle sprain injures the inside ligaments, collectively referred to as the deltoid ligament. The low ankle sprain involves the ligaments supporting the subtalar joint. This is the joint just below the true ankle joint. The subtalar joint is responsible for the foot's ability to turn to the inside and outside. Almost 85% of ankle sprains occur at the lateral (outside) aspect of the true ankle joint. This article will focus primarily on the most common type of ankle sprain: the lateral ankle sprain.