Rory McIlroy’s serious ankle sprain

lateral ankle ligaments art croppedTop ranked golfer, Rory McIlroy, completely ruptured the ATFL (the anterior talofibular ligament) in his left ankle while playing soccer with his friends. McIlroy was unable to defend his title at the British Open. It was the first time in 61 years that the defending champion did not play.

McIlroy’s injury would be considered a Grade 3 ankle sprain. A sprain is an injury to a ligament rather than a strain that is an injury to a muscle. Grade 3 is the most severe sprain because it involves a complete tear of a ligament. McIlroy did not have surgery and fortunately for him, the ligaments healed. McIlroy’s injury also was a lateral ankle sprain that happens when the foot turns over to the inside and injures the outside (lateral) ankle ligaments. Lateral injuries are the most common and account for more than 85 percent of all ankle sprains.

Ankle sprains also can be medial, or on the inside of the ankle. These occur less frequently and are usually accompanied by a fracture, or another type of ankle sprain. The third type of ankle sprain injures most of the ligaments around the ankle, or syndesmosis (high ankle), as well as the two ligaments connecting the tibia and fibula just above the ankle. High ankle sprains are caused by forceful external rotation of the foot were the foot is rotated outward in the direction of small toe.

Frequent signs and symptoms of ankle sprains are:

  • Pain, tenderness, and swelling in the ankle, starting at the site of injury, that may progress to the whole ankle and foot with time
  • Pop or tearing sensation at the time of injury
  • Bruising that may spread to the heel
  • Impaired ability to walk soon after the injury
  • Later bruising and swelling around the foot

Ankle sprains are very common injuries, yet they can be serious, too, sometimes mimicking other injuries such as ankle fractures, foot fractures and tendon injuries. Because treatment for these types of injuries differ from an ankle sprain, it is very important to have the injury evaluated and treated by an orthopaedic specialist to ensure a good outcome.

For over 15 years, Dr. Steven Chudik treats patients at his Shoulder, Knee and Sports Medicine clinic in Westmont and Western Springs, Illinois. To schedule an appointment, call 630-324-0402, or schedule online.

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4700 Gilbert Avenue, Suite 51
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