The Patriot’s tight end Rob Gronkowski and his performance at the Super Bowl should serve as a reminder to all athletes and non-athletes of the impact a few ligaments in your foot can have on your daily activities. Earlier in the season, Rob had suffered one of the most common sports injuries, a severe ankle sprain and like many professional athletes, was willing to sacrifice the health of his feet and body to try to help his team at their biggest game of the year. Luckily, Rob did not suffer any additional injuries while playing football on his already weakened ankle and underwent surgery this past Friday to treat his partially torn ligaments.
Most ankle sprains occur when an individual has their foot in an inverted and plantar flexed position, meaning that the inner arch is lifted off the ground and their toes are flexed towards the ground. Gronkowski’s injury occurred in the opposite of this motion with his foot everted, or with the side of the foot closer to the smaller toes lifted off the ground. When injuries do occur with the foot in this position, damage tends to be more severe with a longer time needed for healing. Although he did not break any bones, Gronkowski is said to have torn two ligaments. While many would people think this should mean faster healing, it is important to remember that while a fracture can take around 6-8 weeks to heal, a damaged ligament also requires six to eight weeks to heal back to good strength.
Ankle arthroscopy was used to surgically stabilize Gronkowski’s torn ligaments. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery where a small incision is made that allows a tiny camera and surgical instruments to enter inside the affected joint. This type of surgery was used because the damaged ligaments are intricately connected to not only to the opposing bones of the joint, but also to the capsule surrounding the joint. This type of minimally invasive procedure means a smaller scar, and less wound for bacteria to try to enter. Following this surgery, Gronkowski will be in a cast for about eight weeks to minimize excessive movement of the ligaments and promote healing. This is very similar to bone healing, in which motion also needs to be minimized to prevent a nonunion, or the bone fragments not coming back together.
In the meantime, Gronkowski’s doctor has hopefully gotten him into a physical therapy program to maintain his range of motion and reduce joint stiffness in the future. To lessen the workload of the healed ligaments, orthotics, a brace, or specialized athletic shoes can also be used to increase the stability of the ankle joint after the eight weeks in the boot are completed.
Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.