Robert Woods Ankle Issues all Due to Ankle Instability

robert woods ankle injuryUSC wide receiver Robert Woods has been dealing with ankle injury issues for a while now. Last season his ailing ankle kept him from performing at his best. This past December, Woods opted to have surgery to repair the ankle.

The surgery in question was an ankle arthroscopy—a procedure that uses a fiber optic camera to explore issues inside the ankle.

Post-surgery inflammation in his ankle has also kept Woods out of practice so far this summer. Despite everything, he hopes to be back to 100% for training camp in August.

“I thought about it, the possibility of not being healthy for the season, of still being sore,” Woods said. “But then I remembered I was sore all last year and I did OK, so I think I’ll be all right.”

Dr. Silverman Comments

The mysterious lingering inflammation issue after arthroscopic treatment of the ankle is none other than Ankle Ligament instability.

We can only guess exactly what happened in the offseason but given the circumstances I would guess it was some sort of inversion ankle sprain. As we have said before, ankle instability causes ankle pain and ankle arthroscopy does very little to fix it in the long term.

Woods has ankle instability. He needs ankle ligament reconstruction.



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Lance Silverman, MD

Orthopaedic Surgeon and founder of Silverman Ankle & Foot. Treating Minnesotans with Ankle & Foot problems since 2004.

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  1. Bob Smelty says

    What’s to stay the inflammation is not scar tissue? You seem to have a stamp in your hand and it simply says, “ANKLE INSTABILITY” and nothing else.

    It may be ankle instability but cover all bases before you jump to a conclusion.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment Bob.

      Scar tissue in the ankle is caused by only 2 things: Trauma and infection.

      Ankle sprains are trauma. Woods sprained his ankle and developed scar tissue. Arthroscopy, by design, involves minimal incisions and minimal capsular damage. The purpose of arthroscopy instead of an open debridement is better visualization of the joint with less damage compared to open surgery. If the “scope” addresses all the pathology the problem goes away rapidly.

      But Woods’ ankle 6 months after surgery is still “inflammed.” That should never be. If my patient hurts at 6 months I am going back to the drawing board to find out what else needs to be treated. Inflammation that lasts more than 3 months following healing is not post-op inflammation – it’s a chronic inflammation and that’s a problem.

      The most under appreciated problem in Orthopedic Ankle and Foot world is instability. Instability of the ankle, the hindfoot, the midfoot, and lesser toe joints. The exam is difficult to learn, takes years to perfect and except for Ultrasound, can’t be seen reliably on most imaging modalities. MRI can give a glimpse of the tissue but, can’t tell the tissue stability.

      If Woods’ ankle still hurts at 6 months, he has unrecognized ankle instability. While he can return, braced or taped and do well, his ankle will still hurt and he will be more challenged cutting from one side to the other. With adequate musculature and stability exercises people can learn to live with ankle instability. They live with it until they stop the activity that bothers them or develop ankle arthritis and ankle tendon tearing.

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