The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

MLB News: Is It Smart for Mets’ Matt Harvey to Play Through Ankle Sprain?

Posted by on Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

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It is often difficult to asses an injury and know precisely when an athlete is safe to go about business as usual. Such is the case for star Mets player Matt Harvey. “At the time I didn’t really think anything of it,” Mets’ Pitcher Matt Harvey said of his recent ankle sprain. “I thought it would get better,” he added, stating that the “natural workload” made it “more sore.” He suspects there is some fluid in the ankle that is preventing healing, but says he is still “good to go for Saturday” at Yankee Stadium. He’s made a few modifications to his pitching style and taped up his ankle good, according to the NY Daily News“It’s uncomfortable, but nothing that’s going to affect my pitching,” he said.

Harvey tweaked his ankle when he ran into a wall, shagging flies in spring training. A twist, roll or turn upon landing is an easy way to tear soft tissue.We see these sort of injuries in baseball players all the time at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC. We offer advanced treatments to get players back into the game as soon as possible, but we also caution players of the risks they take when they rush back to competition before healing is complete.

matt harvey ankle
Matt Harvey continues to play through a sprained ankle. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Diagnosing an Ankle Sprain

Sometimes, an ankle sprain is accompanied by an unmistakable “popping” sound while other times, the injury is more subtle. In addition to a physical exam, a doctor will usually run an x-ray to rule out a broken bone. If a good deal of swelling, pain, and/or bruising presents itself, we may conduct an MRI to determine the extent of the damage to the ligaments, tendons, and joint surface. In Harvey’s case, he wasn’t even certain he had sprained his ankle at first— it just seemed a bit sore.

A grade I sprain like the one Harvey suffered involves slight overstretching and some microscopic damage to the ligament collagen fibers. No casting or splinting is required for this level of damage, but patients are typically put through an active recovery regimen involving full range-of-motion exercises, stretches, isometric exercises, proprioception “balance” training, and weight-bearing strengthening exercises as tolerated.

Grade II sprains involve partial tearing of the ligament and some joint looseness. Grade III sprains include significant swelling, tenderness and instability due to a complete tear/rupture. With both Grade II and III sprains, immobilization is necessary, along with physical therapy. All sprains should go through one week of total rest, protection, and recovery with aggressive icing, elevation, and compression to reduce swelling. From there, one or two weeks of therapy should be conducted to restore balance, strength, and mobility. Depending on the severity of the injury, returning to the game could take several weeks or several months. We’ve seen some athletes with mild sprains get back to the field within a week or two.

Chronic Ankle Instability: A Very Real Risk

The Bleacher Report calls ankle sprains one of the most “nagging, yet debilitating” injuries in baseball. According to Lower Extremity Review Magazine” Inappropriate treatment and rehabilitation can result in residual symptoms, recurrent ankle injuries, and ultimately chronic ankle instability.” The question then becomes: What is the risk that chronic instability will occur following injury? The magazine goes on to cite a study of 326,396 sports-related ankle injuries conducted by Tanen and colleagues, which found that 79% of baseball or softball players suffered a lateral ankle sprain during play and 20.9% of them went on to develop chronic ankle instability. Chronic problems may include: abnormal balance, stiffness, muscle weakness, laxity and chronic pain that persists for more than 4-6 weeks.

Get Your NYC Baseball Injury Evaluated

The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in Manhattan and White Plains offer top-of-the-line facilities for acute treatment and injury recovery. We have all the diagnostic tools necessary to evaluate the extent of the injury. Patients are seen by board-certified podiatrists specializing in sports medicine. We’ve worked with amateur and professional athletes alike, and offer the latest technologies and treatments the industry has to offer, from platelet rich plasma injections to pain-reducing lasers. Contact us to be seen for an evaluation of your baseball foot or ankle injury without delay.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.