The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

NFL Injury Report: 3 High-Ankle Sprains

Posted by on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014


A high-ankle sprain involves a tearing of the ligaments that connect the tibia and the fibula. Surrounding ligaments, like the interosseous and anterior tibiofibular ligaments, are also often injured. “These injuries represent only 10% of all ankle sprains, yet they are increasingly seen in football players of all levels,” says St. Louis Rams orthopaedic surgery consultant Dr. Matt Matava from the Washington University School of Medicine. He adds, “High ankle sprains have been theorized to occur, at least in part, as a result of the increased traction provided by artificial turf fields as well as the lighter, more flexible cleats that players now use.”

high ankle sprain
High ankle sprains are less common than low ankle sprains, but this rotation injury can take a long recovery. Image Source:

Sprains above the ankle bone generally take twice as long to heal compared to lower ankle sprains because the ligaments involved are much bigger, thicker, and bear more support. We can expect NFL players with a high-ankle sprain to be out for six to 137 days. If surgery is not needed, players miss an average of 45 days, but re-injuries and months of sub-par play are common when individuals rush back to the game.

Though injuries among NFL players are numerous, we’ll discuss three of the recent high-profile high-ankle sprains.

 NY Giants: Eli Manning’s High-Ankle Sprain

NY Giants Quarterback Eli Manning was taken from the December 29th Washington Redskins game with a high ankle sprain. The injury occurred during a take-down by Chris Baker in the second quarter. Manning’s ankle rolled as he toppled to the turf. He stayed in the game long enough to throw an interception, but it was clear he wasn’t fit to play.

“I just felt the guy kind of bend me back and I got my foot stuck underneath him,” Manning told the Newark Star-Ledger. “I know it was hurt a little bit at the time and was hoping it wasn’t worse. I’m very happy to hear it’s just a sprain.”

Thankfully, Manning will have the entire post-season to recover peacefully. He will have to live vicariously through brother Peyton Manning who will be leading the Broncos to the 2014 Playoffs.

Buffalo Bills: C.J. Spiller’s High-Ankle Sprain

The Buffalo Bills had no illusion of making it to Super Bowl playoffs this year, but much hope was pinned on running back C.J. Spiller who was looking to earn a reputation as one of the best in the league. However, a week 4 high-ankle sprain in a match-up against the Ravens set him back considerably.

“It kind of hindered some of the things that we were able to do with me. When you keep coming in and out of games, it’s hard to really get a guy going like that,” he explained.

The athlete expressed irritation at his coach’s reticence to rest him, saying, “I ain’t going to let no ankle injury stop me. Playing with turf toe is more painful than playing on this ankle sprain, to me. I played the whole season with that.”

Bills fans hope he will take it easy and enjoy a full recovery in the post-season.

seattle seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks will present a tough match for the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. Image Source:

Seattle Seahawks: Luke Willson’s High-Ankle Sprain

Rookie tight end Luke Willson is rumored to be back in the game less than two weeks after a high-ankle sprain during a game against St. Louis. At first, the coaching staff worried it might be fractured.

“They checked him out right off the bat and looked like he had a broken leg, and they checked him out again later that night and he didn’t,” said Coach Pete Carroll. “So all I can tell you is it was remarkable whatever happened in there.”

Willson was able to participate in practices the following Wednesday and Thursday. Days before battling against New Orleans in the divisional playoffs, he said he came out of practice feeling “pretty good.” He had suffered a high-ankle sprain on that same ankle two years ago during his junior year at Rice University, which he describes as “a pretty bad one.” He says he expects to stick with the team through the playoffs — but adds, “I guess it’s in the doctor’s hands now.”


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.