Andy Pettitte’s Ankle Injury

Big news in baseball, especially here in NYC.  NY Yankees' star pitcher, Andy Pettitte, was hit in the leg by an errant ball and sustained a left ankle fracture.  He’s out for six weeks and there is panic in the Bronx.  So what does that mean for us?  Well, a lot to me, as I must confess for full disclosure, that I am a clandestine Red Sox fan - sorry, it's my Boston roots.

Andy's fracture was an unusual one, and somewhat fortunate.  About 60% of ankle fractures involve a twisting injury in which the foot inverts, or turns inward, toward the other leg, and most of the remainder of fractures involve a different type of twisting motion.  As the bone goes, so do the ligaments.  At a young age, bones are stronger than ligaments, and therefore as the leg twists, the bone remains intact and the ligaments tear, hence the higher number of ankle sprains vs. fractures.  As we age, the ligaments remain strong and the bones lose their density, and as the ankle twists, the ligaments remain intact and the bones break - resulting in a fracture.  Since Andy's injury happened as a result of blunt trauma, the ligaments were not involved and the bones should heal perfectly well, typically in 4-6 weeks.  A more serious injury with greater displacement may require surgical repair.

So what to do if you have an injured ankle?  Generally if you can walk on the foot, the bones are not broken - but don't assume.  Use the RICE principle: rest, ice, compression, elevation.  And of course, make an appointment as soon as possible with your NYC podiatrist.

See you in the office.

Dr. Ernest L. Isaacson

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