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How much rest might Patrick McCaw need before returning from injury?

The Golden State Warriors’ Patrick McCaw will miss some games due to a sprained left ankle. Dr. Elliot Yoo gives us the low-down on ankle injuries.

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

For anyone who missed it, Patrick McCaw was injured in last Friday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans. You can read about the initial injury reports here.

Steve Kerr told reporters that McCaw would miss at least two games with a sprained left ankle.

We turned to our on-call injury expert — Dr. Elliot Yoo, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician and pain medicine fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital — to discuss all things ankle.

DISCLAIMER: The discussion below is general in nature. Golden State of Mind and Dr. Yoo are not providing any medical diagnoses and are certainly not giving you medical advice. If you’re hurt, stop reading and go to your doctor.

Jason Lee: Just a few games in and we’re already turning to you for information! So ankle sprains. What can you tell us?

Dr. Elliot Yoo: Recovery from an ankle sprain is pretty similar to recovery from sprains in other parts of the body. The initial goal is going to be to bring down swelling. Bearing weight on the joint is okay as long as there is no structural damage. Crutches can be used if needed.

The next step would be to work on range of motion and to strengthen the muscles of the shin, which help to stabilize the ankle joint.

The last phase would be functional conditioning with agility and endurance training.

There is no report on what kind of sprain McCaw suffered but sprains involving the ligaments of the lateral ankle are by far the most common.

J.L.: I’m glad you brought that up. McCaw said that in the past it took “about a week” to recover from an ankle sprain. Is that timeline consistent with a mild sprain?

Dr. Yoo: Typically a minor sprain would take a couple of weeks to heal. A severe sprain could be up to six to eight weeks. But it’s not unheard of for athletes to tape up sprained ankles and re-enter games before they’ve fully healed.

J.L.: What would be the most aggressive course of action to get him back on the court? The most conservative?

Dr. Yoo: I’ll start with the most conservative. Basically, that would be resting until the ankle is completely comfortable and there is no pain.

The aggressive course would be, as soon as he can can do some drills, tape him up or put a brace on him and have him return to play with limited minutes. This could mean playing through some pain.

J.L.: Any performance issues if he were to come back before his ankle fully healed?

Dr. Yoo: If he came back before his ankle healed he might not be as agile and his ability to make quick changes in direction could be compromised, although it shouldn’t have too much of an affect on his vertical. Also, an ankle brace immobilizes an otherwise very mobile joint. Depending on the kind of brace or tape they use, it could hamper his movements.

Hopefully it’s just a mild sprain and he can get the time he needs. If that’s the case, he should recover fine.

Our thanks to Dr. Yoo. We will be checking in with him periodically throughout the season as injuries pop up.

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