It was early in the third quarter when Dwyane Wade barrelled towards the hoop and Valanciunas jumped up to contest the lay-up. As he came down partially on Dwayne Wades foot and landed awkwardly he sprained his right ankle. Valanciunas was in obvious pain and slowly made his way to the bench and then to the locker room.

Valanciunas had X-rays and a MRI done on his right ankle. The X-rays came back negative for any broken bones however word was that the MRI showed a either a second or third degree lateral ankle sprain. Valanciunas did suffer a mild ankle tweak in game 1 of the Toronto Miami series and was able to play. This may have been a minor tear that lead to the larger more painful tear

Lateral Ankle Sprain

A lateral ankle sprain is when an athlete injures the ligaments that connect the bones of the ankle joint on the outside of the ankle. There are 3 main ligaments located on the lateral side of the ankle that can be injured the Anterior Talofibular ligament (ATF), Calcaneofibular ligament (CF), and Posterior talofibular ligament (PTF). Injury can range from a few minor tears of a ligament or a full blown tear.

lateral ankle sprain

A lateral ankle sprain occurs when the foot is forced the twist inward and puts additional stretch on the outside ligaments. This can occur in sports that require a lot of quick cutting and direction change or like in Valanciunas’s case jumping and landing on an uneven surface.

Lateral Ankle Sprain Symptoms

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Instability

Lateral Ankle Sprain Grades

A grade 1 ankle sprain is basically just a minor tweak of the ankle that causes a bit of pain but nothing that is going to impair the function of your ankle. It is a slight stretching to the fibers of the ATFL and will have little effect on your balance and coordination. A grade 2 sprain is the complete tear of the ATFL and a partial tear to the CFL. Players are often not able to return to sport immediately but return in 10-30 days.

tears in lateral collateral ligaments

Grade 3 ankle sprains are classified as a complete tear of the ATFL, CFL, and a partial tear to the PTFL. Players are in immediate pain and will have a hard time walking because of loss of range of motion. The normal recovery for a grade 3 ankle sprain is 30-90 days.

For more information on Lateral Ankle Sprains Click Here

Treatment for Valanciunas

Initially Valanciunas was put in a walking boot to limit his movement through the ankle joint while maintaining stability. Like many injured athletes Valanciunas followed the RICE protocol: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. When the body is injured physiological reactions immediately begin to take place like swelling, warmth, pain and redness. Ice has multiple benefits that include decreasing the temperature and therefor protecting cells that die from the heat. Ice also decreases inflammation, pain, and muscle spasms. Elevation is done to increase blood flow and circulation to bring down swelling and allow the ankle to start healing.

Once Valanciunas’s ankle is stable enough and swelling has gone down then he would do stretching exercises to begin to gain back his range of motion and increase stability. After that he will work with a physiotherapist to strengthen his ankle and bring it back to normal function. Returning too soon can be very damaging is he was to injure it again.

Here’s hoping that Jonas Valanciunas makes it back in time to defeat Lebron and the Cleveland Cavaliers!

Ankle Braces are highly recommended for athletes who have suffered an ankle injury and are wanting to return to sport. For more information on ankle braces for sprained ankles Click Here