A nightmare situation occurred for the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII. Late in the second quarter, while trying to make a play happen to help the team even the score ahead of halftime, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes very clearly aggravated his ankle injury.
Mahomes stayed down on the field for a moment before limping over to the sideline where he was in a ton of pain. He was met on the sideline by the training staff and by the one-minute mark in the second quarter, he was back standing on the sideline and played through the rest of the game.
The two-time NFL MVP was previously diagnosed with a high ankle sprain. High ankle sprains that involve damage to the syndesmosis (ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula) just above the ankle. High ankle sprains are less common, but they tend to be more severe in nature. Oftentimes they are classified based on their severity.
Grade 1 – The syndesmosis is stretched but not torn.
Grade 2 – The syndesmosis is partially torn.
Grade 3 – The syndesmosis is completely torn.
The fact that Mahomes returned to the game suggests that he did not suffer a Grade 3 sprain, but a Grade 1 sprain. Ankle sprains can mostly be managed conservatively. The treatment initially will include the RICE method. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment may include physical therapy, bracing/taping/casting or even surgical intervention. An MRI can be performed to further evaluate the extent of the injury to determine whether or not surgical intervention is needed.
If there is a tear in syndesmosis and surgical intervention is needed, most often it is repaired using a tightrope. The tightrope is a device made by an orthopedic implant company that is used to stabilize the syndesmosis after an injury. Previously, this surgery involved using 2 metal screws to stabilize the fibula to the tibia. These screws are rigid and would have to be removed at a later date, thus requiring a second surgery. The tightrope allows the syndesmosis to be stabilized in a FLEXIBLE manner, keeping the natural motion between the tibia and fibula. Since the fixation is flexible, there is no need for a second surgery. Rehab may begin much faster and return to play may happen as soon as 4-6 weeks.
So far there is no word on whether Mahomes will undergo surgery after the off season but luckily his injury yesterday wasn’t severe enough to keep him from leading Kansas City to its second Lombardi Trophy in four years with three touchdown passes.