What is a high ankle sprain? Doctor explains Michael Thomas’ injury and how severe it could be

QB Tua Tagovailoa returned from a high ankle sprain in just three weeks last season, but wasn’t playing at 100%.

NEW ORLEANS — In the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Saints game, teammate Latavius Murry accidentally clipped the back of Michael Thomas’ legs. Now the NFL Network reports the wide receiver has a high ankle sprain and could be out several weeks. 

The sprain, or injured ligament, that Thomas has is above the ankle joint, so it’s called a high ankle sprain. Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Tim Finney, is not treating Number 13, but explained what likely happened.

“So. he probably torqued downward and then to the side, and when that twists, like that bone the talus, basically torques and tears that ligament,” Dr. Tim Finney of Southern Orthopedic Specialists explained.

The syndesmosis ligament, that holds the two leg bones together, is damaged. Without it, putting weight on the foot makes those bones spread apart.

But the severity of Thomas’ injury is unclear.

“The grade one type sprains you can treat in a boot, a walking boot, and most of them recover from that pretty well. It may take a few weeks still, grade one, to comfortably cut, run,” Dr. Finney said.

With a grade two or three, there is a procedure called the TightRope. A permanent very heavy thread is strung through the two bones horizontally to hold them together. it gives extra stability forever, even after the ligament heals. 

“It’s pretty minor surgery. It’s outpatient. Very quick rehab,” Dr. Finney said.

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Former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had it done on both of his ankles. One ankle in 2018. The other in 2019. He sprained that one in the Alabama- Tennessee game Oct.19 and was back three weeks later for the Alabama-LSU game Nov. 9.

“He was back to practice pretty quickly, but you could tell even after that game, he was limping, and he took some hits.  So even at four weeks after surgery, you could still have some soreness,” he said.

Tagovailoa now plays for the Miami Dolphins.

When asked his opinion, if Thomas will be back to his full, high-performance ability, Dr. Finney replied, “Yeah, I think, I think you can get back fully after this heals up.”

And Saints fans want to see him back to the “Can’t Guard Mike” playmaker they love seeing in the end zone.

For now, Michael Thomas is not on the injured reserve list.

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