Rory McIllroy Unable to Defend Open Title Due to Ankle Injury

Number One ranked golfer Rory McIllroy won’t be defending his title at the Open Championship at St. Andrews next week.

That’s because he injured his left ankle last weekend while playing soccer with friends in Northern Ireland. McIllroy sustained a total rupture of the ATFL — the anterior talofibular ligament, along with damage to the associated joint capsule.

Today he posted to Instagram:

“After much consideration, I have decided not to play in the Open Championship at St. Andrews. I’m taking a long term view of this injury and, although rehab is progressing well, I want to come back to tournament play when I feel 100% healthy and 100% competitive. Thank you for all your support and best wishes. I hope to be back on the course as soon as I can…. In the mean time, come on Andy!!!”

According to ESPN, McIllroy will be the first player not to defend his Open title since Ben Hogan in 1954. He is also supposed to defend his title at the Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship which are scheduled for mid-August. It is not known, whether he will be able to attend those events.

Some ankle anatomy

The ankle joint is made up of 3 bones, ligaments and a joint capsule:

The tibia, sometimes called the shin bone, is the main bone of the lower leg, and makes up the inside of the ankle joint.

The fibula is a smaller bone that lays next to the tibia on the outside of the lower leg and makes up the outer side of the ankle joint.

The talus is a odd hump shaped bone of the foot that the tibia and fibula arch over to form the ankle. Those bumps that stick out from the sides of your ankles are called malleoli (singular is malleolus). They are the end parts of the tibia and fibula that surround the talus.

A fibrous membrane called the joint capsule, lined with a smooth layer called the synovium, encases the bony joint structure. The joint capsule contains synovial fluid produced by the synovium which allows for smooth movement of the joint surfaces.Ankle

The ankle joint is stabilized by 3 groups of ligaments, which are fibers that hold these bones in place.

  • The deltoid ligament supports the medial (inner) side of the joint, and is attached to the medial malleolus of the tibia. It also connects to the calcaneus (heel bone), calcaneonavicular ligament, the talus, and to one of the smaller ankle bones called  the navicula.
  • The anterior and posterior talofibular ligaments support the lateral side of the joint from the lateral (outer) malleolus of the fibula to the top of the talus.
  • The calcaneofibular ligament is attached at the lateral malleolus and to the lateral surface of the calcaneus.

Ligament Injuries

Ligaments have a bit of stretch to them. During movement, they stretch, then return to their normal length. If a movement causes them to stretch more than usual, the fibers of the ligament can be damaged, which is referred to as a sprain. Ankle sprains are a very common injury, occurring in approximately 25,000 Americans each year.

The degree of sprain depends upon how much force is place on the ligaments. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons divides sprains into three degrees:

sprain degrees

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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