by Kevin D. Heaton, DO

Indianapolis, IN – My heart sank when I saw the injury replay of Rob Gronkowski in the AFC Championship game. He suffered the classic mechanism for what we call a high ankle sprain. A high ankle sprain means that you have injured the structures of the lower leg that hold together the two bones, the tibia and fibula, termed the syndesmotic ligaments.  A high ankle sprain can cause symptoms that are similar to other ankle sprains but the pain is typically worse when the ankle is flexed up and rotated to the outside.

The unfortunate reality is that this type of injury can often times take much longer to heal then the typical lateral ankle sprain.  It is being reported that Gronkowski may need surgery after the season to repair some of these ligaments.   Even if surgery is not required, it can take many weeks of immobilization to help the leg regain the stability of these ligaments.  While I have no first-hand knowledge of what his physical exam, xray or MRI findings are, if this is indeed correct then it is a bad sign.  As of today, Gronkowski is out of the boot, which is encouraging.  However, coming out of the boot is a far cry from being able to run and cut at full speed and to block and tackle 300 lb lineman.  As we saw with Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers late in the season, Gronkowski’s effectiveness may be significantly limited on Super Bowl Sunday. Gronkowski is young and is an incredible athlete, if anyone can play through the pain, he can.  Go Patriots!