It was a rough weekend for a few football players.

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboy running back suffered a high ankle sprain and a broken leg:

Sunday, and like Mahomes on Saturday, it was officially confirmed that Cowboy’s running back, Tony Pollard suffered a high-ankle sprain. However, unlike the Mahomes, he did not return to the game in the second half. In fact, after further examination, it was reported that Pollard suffered a high ankle sprain and a fractured left fibula that will require surgery.

Mahomes suffers a high ankle sprain:

Saturday in the Kansas City Chiefs divisional round playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Quarterback Patrick Mahomes injured his ankle. Luckily, Mahomes did not fracture his ankle, but has a high ankle sprain. Dr. Robert LaPrade, Complex Knee and Sports Medicine Surgeon, explains what a high ankle sprain is.

What is the difference between a high and a low ankle sprain ?

Dr. LaPrade explains: High ankle sprains involve the attachment ligaments between the two main bones of the lower leg-the tibia (shin bone) and the fibula. A low ankle sprain occurs between the ligaments connecting the lower part of the fibula and the ankle socket bone (the talus).

For low ankles sprains, an athlete can usually return back to competition with a well done taping job of their ankle as soon as they can place their ankle into their ice skates or cleats. Most low ankle sprains can be treated with functional activities and once they can participate in simulated activities without problems, they can return back to competition.

The same is not true for a high ankle sprain. These are much more difficult to treat in hockey, and twist and turning athletes, because they cannot transition and skate cross-overs or twist, turn or pivot as well. While some hockey and other athletes can get back to on-ice activities within 1-2 weeks with minor high ankle sprains, high level high ankle sprains take 6+ weeks to return to competition because it can be very painful when they are twisting and pivoting. One way to determine their ability to return back to competition is if they can stand and twist on their ankle without significant pain. In some circumstances, a local anesthetic injection may provide pain relief for 1-2 hours for the treatment of low grade high ankle sprains.

How soon can Mahomes return to the game?

Whether or not Mahomes is ready to return to football in a week will depend of the severity of his high ankle sprain. As mentioned by Dr. LaPrade, severe high level ankle sprains can take as many as 6 weeks to heal. If  he has a minor high ankle sprain, he may be able to make Sunday’s AFC Championship game.

Will Pollard’s recovery be quick?

It is doubtful that Tony Pollard will return before next season, due to the added complexity of his injury. While his high ankle sprain may be severe, the greater injury is the broken fibula which will require surgery. Recovery from a broken fibula can take up to 3 months.

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