Ask A Doctor: Chane Behanan's High Ankle Sprain

Andy Lyons

Card Chronicle medical correspondent Dr. Samuel Carter gives some insight into Chane Behanan's "moderate high ankle sprain" and tells us when he thinks we can expect Chane back.

Written by Card Chronicle Medical Correspondent, Dr. Samuel Carter

Today Rick Pitino announced that Chane Behanan has a moderate high ankle sprain suffered in practice. He is expected to miss three to four games. I have detailed information on various types of ankle sprains on my blog, but wanted to give a brief overview of high ankle sprains for Card Chronicle readers.

A high ankle sprain is an ankle sprain that also involves the syndesmosis of the ankle. The syndesmotic ligaments hold the bones of the lower leg, the tibia and fibula, together. Typical ankle sprains most commonly involve the lateral ankle ligaments that attach to the tip of the distal fibula, or less commonly the medial ankle ligaments that attach to the tip of the medial malleolus. Both of these injuries cause pain low in the ankle joint, usually just below the tips of the malleoli - the large bony bumps that you feel on each side of the ankle. A syndesmosis sprain usually causes pain slightly above the ankle joint where the tibia and fibula are held together, which is higher than the common sprains giving rise to the term "high" ankle sprain. The pain usually occurs with weight bearing, and can be elicited on physical exam by several methods including the "squeeze test" in which the bones in the end of the leg are squeezed together by the examiner. Another test involves stressing the syndesmosis by dorsiflexing and externally rotating the foot. If this test causes pain it indicates a high ankle sprain.

While the treatment of high ankle sprains is similar to other ankle sprains, they generally take several weeks longer to heal because of the added injury. On average, high ankle sprains take three to six weeks to heal before pain-free athletic activity can occur. It is important to correctly diagnose syndesmosis sprains early so that reasonable expectations regarding healing time and return to play can be established.

As I am not the treating physician in this case, and because the healing times for these sprains can range widely depending on the severity and the individual, I would trust the reported timeframe of 3 - 4 games. Gorgui was back much sooner than I anticipated, so maybe Chane will surprise me as well.

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