< Back to Blog

The world’s #1 golfer just suffered a severe ankle injury – now what?

This ligament is crucial to the golf swing, so McIlroy’s recovery is of importance to his fans and other golf enthusiasts. This injury could mean that he will never be the same golfer that he once was, according to Nick Faldo, quoted in the Mirror. McIlroy has already started rehab with the goal to get back to golf as soon as possible, but he will have to follow the same routine as anyone else with a similar injury.

A common injury

The anterior talofibular ligament is the most commonly injured ligament in the ankle, according to Healthline. It is a lateral ligament, which means when the ankle unnaturally twists, it is the one that is most negatively affected. When this ligament is strained, it can heal in just a few days. However, when it is ruptured or torn, as in the case with McIlroy, then the damage is significantly more extensive and requires more healing time.

What is the treatment?

The first thing someone should do with this injury is RICE, or rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Typically, taking some type of NSAID, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can help with the pain and inflammation. Ankle braces are used as well, which help people become ambulatory sooner while still allowing the ankle to heal. For most tears of this ligament, ankle surgery is not necessary. Instead, physical therapy and the wearing of an ankle brace allows the ligament to fully heal. However, when the tear is significant enough or there is chronic instability, then ankle surgery may be required.

Physical therapy training begins once the ankle can bear weight and the swelling has gone down. The typical therapy includes stretching of the Achilles tendon and muscles in the ankle. Exercises using Thera-band, along with one-leg stands, are often used as well. Over time, the ankle builds back up its strength.

What is the recovery period?

The recovery period is dependent upon many different factors, including the severity of the injury and the compliance of the patient. Smaller sprains may take just a few days, but with something like McIlroy’s injury, the recovery period is expected to take several weeks. If the ankle is re-injured, or not given proper amount of time to rest, then the recovery period will take longer. That’s why it’s important that McIlroy takes the time away from golf until his ankle is completely ready to take on the sport. Otherwise, he may re-injure it and be out for longer. Once the ankle is back to normal, it is common for a patient to continue to do home exercises and wear a brace or tape to reduce the risk of injury in the future.

Although McIlroy’s injury was severe, it does not seem that he will need ankle surgery at this point. Hopefully, his ankle will heal quickly and he will be back on the course soon to keep his title as the number one golfer in the country.

If you are experiencing ankle or foot problems, request an appointment with Kansas City Foot Specialists today.