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Will Atlanta Hawks Star Trae Young’s Ankle Be Healthy Enough For A Return?

Will Atlanta Hawks Star Trae Young’s Ankle Be Healthy Enough For A Return? 1024 576 Taiwo Adeshigbin

Atlanta Hawks Trae Young missed Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals due to a sprained ankle and a ‘deep bone bruise’ in his right foot, the team announced. According to ESPN, Young exhausted all options on Tuesday, but a lack of mobility and significant pain made it impossible to play.

“It is possible he could return (during the Eastern Conference Finals series),” Dr. Zachary Flynn said. “Typically, with an ankle sprain, they are going to sustain a bone bruise – either in the talus, tibia or fibula – the bones involving the ankle joint.”

A bone bruise is caused by a high-level force or repetitive stress on a given area, as seen when Young accidentally stepped on the referee’s foot –while wearing braces — rolling his ankle inwards.

An ankle sprain with a bone bruise can often take at least 6 to 8 weeks to heal. However, a bone bruise, depending on the severity, could have a variable healing time frame — from a couple of weeks to two years.

During the early stages, protecting the joint from weight-bearing activities, managing the pain and swelling, and facilitating bone healing will be critical. The Hawks, who have not been to the NBA finals since 1961, will be utilizing everything to get Young on the court in a safe manner.

After a lateral sprain, one may have difficulty walking with increased swelling, stiffness and tenderness. However, a bone bruise can cause trauma under the cartilage — where many nerve fibers reside — resulting in intense pain during weight-bearing activities.

“Any reasonable team physician is going to look at the MRI and say ok, it’s a small isolated bone bruise in an area that we would suspect,” Flynn said. “Let him try to warm-up, let him try to play through. If he has this sort of threshold or pain, we just need to pull the plug on it.”

An MRI will indicate the severity of the injury, but the medical team will consider many factors and assess an athlete’s physical presentation to make recommendations.

“He is going to be immobilized in a walking boot, doing physical therapy, treatment modalities – TENS unit, icing, cryotherapy,” Flynn said. “May even consider hyperbaric oxygen therapy to help heal their tissue and bone quicker.”

Even if Young were to return, the alarming concern is the way he suffered this injury.

“That’s (Young’s ankle sprain) a major red flag, I just rolled through a brace, I have a bone bruise. When you get a bone bruise from an ankle sprain – while braced – then you know you’re dealing with a higher level of instability.”

“When you look an athlete like Trae, he’s got chronic instability. He has probably rolled that ankle upward to 30 to 40 times in his lifetime,” Flynn said.

Ankle sprains are a common occurrence during NBA games. However, Flynn said there should be some concerns about one’s longevity when an ankle injury impacts the bone and cartilage.

“Grant Hill had ankle instability had surgeries, had failed surgeries, and it just took a while for him to get reestablished,” Flynn said.

Hill was a former NBA player whose career was in jeopardy because of the many ankle and bone healing issues during his 19-year career.

Although many NBA players experience multiple ankle sprains and play through those injuries, the general population should refrain from that. After an ankle sprain, it warrants the appropriate time and medical care to prevent chronic ankle instability in the future.