Q: I am an 18 years old football player. I fractured my right ankle ligament while playing eight months ago. At that time I did not pay much attention to the injury due to my studies but it has started paining a lot now. Whenever I play football, my foot hurts and swells up. Currently, my foot is plastered for immobilising the part. It is totally heart breaking to learn that I can't ever play like I used to. Will I ever play football again? Will plastering the foot help me recover? I feel like killing myself.
A:First of all, it is quiet obvious from your letter that you are terribly upset over a diagnosis, which has neither been confirmed nor graded regarding its severity. Sprains of the ankle may be graded into:
- Type-I; Mild which are simple stretch injuries of the ligament.
- Type-II; Moderate which are incomplete ligamentous injuries.
- Type-III; complete ligamentous injury.
It is important to distinguish the type of injury as the treatment modality depends on that. In addition, according to another classification similar injuries occurring in athletes are graded as more severe than those in non-athletes (Grade-I Vs Grade II). The severity of injury can be assessed only by doing what are known as stress radiographs.
Most type-I and type-II injuries can be treated by plaster boot immobilization followed by functional rehabilitation. The type-III injuries also have good results with surgical treatment and at times with conservative treatment. However, in case of persistent symptoms, surgical reconstruction can be done even after delay with good results. Different surgical procedures are described for this.
You should get in touch with an orthopaedic surgeon who routinely does lot of foot surgeries. I am sure he will be able to make a rational decision for you.
The last sentence in your letter is very disturbing. To threaten suicide if you cannot get back to play is rather a severe decision. Life is far too precious to make such decisions. Our life in this world is the most precious gift that we have. Not being able to do something that we love does not take away the joy of living. You should look at it positively may be it will lead you to something far more exciting that you would ordinarily may have ignored completely. You never know what life has in store for you. An ankle sprain is the least of problems one can have. If everyone with similar problems attempts suicide this world will have no place to bury or cremate them.
Think of people like Stephen Hawking who despite major problems have contributed far more to science than able bodied, intelligent and ‘normal’ people. So, my young friend be rational, life is too beautiful and nothing is worth taking away your life. Get to a competent Orthopaedic surgeon and get your ankle treated so that you can go kicking at the earliest.