Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Ankle FAQ

Question:

I have more of a comment than a question. Back when I was in high school sports, I sprained my ankle right before a big game. The coach taped it up for me and I played anyway. Now at age 42, I have severe arthritis in that ankle. It's hard to say now if I would do it all over again the same way. Making the winning touchdown was a lifetime memory but I'm suffering for it now. Please tell coaches and athletic trainers to err on the side of caution for their players. Is disability really worth winning (especially at the high school level)?

Answer:

Ankle sprains may seem like a minor problem but they put many athletes on the bench every year. And just as you have discovered, the effects can catch up with you much later in life. Chronic ankle stability, decreased physical activity, and ankle osteoarthritis head the list of potential long-term effects of ankle sprain. Better sports equipment today (especially protective gear) along with improved shoe-wear have really helped with injury prevention. And if you are watcing the news or sports at all, you know the focus on reducing concussions among sports players is a huge focus right now. As far as ankle injuries go, these top all other musculoskeletal injuries in sports like basketball, baseball, and football that require sudden stops or cutting movements. Athletes who have already had one ankle sprain often wear protective tape or slip-on lace-up ankle braces. At least according to one study of high school athletes, the positive effect and benefits of wearing the brace are worth it. Athletes still have to be concerned about injuries to the knee and other parts of the body, but at least the lace-up brace gives an edge of protection to the ankle. Thanks for writing it -- the voice of common sense and experience is always welcome! Timothy A. McGuine, PhD, ATC, et al. The Effect of Lace-Up Ankle Braces on Injury Rates in High School Basketball Players. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. September 2011. Vol. 39. No. 9. Pp. 1840-1848.

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