The high ankle ligaments are situated above the ankle and these are responsible for connecting the tibia to the fibula. Stability between the tibia and fibula at this level is vital since running and walking places substantial strain at this junction. A high ankle sprain involves tearing and damage to the high ankle ligament. Take note that these injuries are less common than a traditional ankle sprain.
Signs and symptoms
A high ankle sprain is caused by a rotational or twisting injury. This injury can also occur in a similar scenario of fractured ankle in which the bones are broken. In some circumstances, the ligament on the interior of the ankle will be torn.
An individual with this type of sprain without a fracture might be able to support weight but can experience pain on the intersection in between the tibia and fibula right over the level of the ankle.
Causes of high ankle sprains
High ankle sprains typically occur from rotational injuries. This injury is quite common in sports particularly high impact sports. When an external rotation occurs, the foot is turned towards the exterior with respect to the leg. This is responsible for causing the tears.
The objective of treatment is to position the tibia and fibula correctly and allow healing to take place. This type of injury will take a longer time to heal than a typical ankle sprain. If an individual sustained a sprain that does not involve a broken bone, the treatment involving resting the leg, application of an ice pack for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours, compression with an ACE wrap and elevation. Aggressive therapy when weight bearing is possible is vital which involves strengthening of the tendons on the exterior of the ankle.
It usually takes 6 weeks or more to return to play but can take even longer. An indication that the individual is ready to return to sports is if he/she can hop on the foot 15 times. This test is acceptable if there is no obvious widening in between the tibia and fibula on the X-ray. In case there is widening or a broken bone, surgery is often needed.
The recovery for a high ankle sprain takes a longer time than a typical ankle sprain. In reality, it can even take 6-7 weeks before the individual can return to play. In cases in which there is separation of the tibia and fibula or a fracture, surgery is needed and must avoid weight bearing under a cast and followed by a walking boot for about 12 weeks. Passive range of motion exercises is vital with a guidance of a therapist to avoid stiffness.
The outcome is generally good if the injury was recognized and treated correctly. Remember that there is likelihood that a certain degree of stiffness on the ankle can occur after a high ankle sprain. This is true especially if a fracture is involved.