COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - With high school football in high gear right now, injuries on and off the field are of big concern among student athletes and their parents.
Ankle injuries affect dozens of area players each year – injuries that can not only keep them out of the game but have lasting effects if not treated properly.
At any given time during football season, three to four players per team will be sidelined with an ankle sprain, the most common injury in high school sports.
"That's when a football player would invert their ankle or roll it and that would tear the ligaments on the side of the ankle," Dr. Leland McCluskey with the St. Francis Orthopedic Institute.
Dr. McCluskey says it's not only painful, it can keep a player out of the game for at least a week if it's a mild sprain and maybe for the entire season if it's severe.
"If you had especially multiple sprains it's really important for it to go through a formal therapy program where you can really strengthen it and work on balance, so you need to get with a physical therapy program that can assess all that and that's really valuable," Dr. McCluskey said.
The best ways to prevent sprains is stretching before hitting the field
Dr. McCluskey says things like poor technique, fatigue and simply being out of shape all can make you more susceptible to injury.
Recurring sprains are common among athletes and he says they could be cause for concern if they persist for more than six weeks.
"If you go more than six weeks or so we start to worry about other things that go along with those injuries like you can chip cartilage or tear one of the tendons that connect muscle to the bone and you can't see that on a radar," Dr. McCluskey said. "Sometimes we have to get an MRI if people aren't progressing like they ought to."
Dr. McCluskey says when severe sprains happen in younger athletes who are still growing, doctors worry about the injury breaking the "growth plate" and causing longer term damage.
That's why he says it's important to monitor all injuries and get the appropriate treatment.