Causes & Symptoms
The individual bones in your ankle joint are bound together by ligaments. They are activated by various muscles in the calf. The ligament connection between your tibia bone and fibula bone, as well as your external and internal ligaments, stabilise your foot. Ankle sprains or ligament injuries can commonly be divided into two groups; a “high” or a “low” ankle sprain. Low ankle sprains are by far more common and occur when the ankle rolls inwards. Here the ligaments that attach the ankle bone to the fibula bone are torn. The three ligaments on the outer side of the ankle can get injured in these injuries. These injuries are commonly managed without the need for surgery. A high ankle sprain is less common but more serious and may need surgical treatment. In a high ankle sprain the tough ligaments that hold the two lower leg bones together are torn. This is otherwise known as a syndesmosis injury and may result in the two bones springing apart.
How does a ligament tear of the ankle joint occur?
In 85% of cases, a ligament tear of the ankle joint happens due to the ankle rolling while walking. External forces, such as a tackle in football or rugby, can also cause ligament rupture. In general, sports that require cutting and turning such as tennis, netball or hockey carry a high risk of a low ankle sprain and ligament injury. In addition, these types of accidents can lead to bone fractures or damage to the cartilage. Tendons can also be damaged. A high ankle sprain can result from sports such as rugby and are also commonly seen in skiing injuries.
Signs of a ligament rupture of the ankle joint
After your ankle rolls, a sudden shooting pain typically occurs. Some report a crunching or cracking noise. The first signs of a ligament tear are severe swelling and bruising. In a low ankle sprain the bruise can track into the foot and the toes. A large swelling can appear on the outer side of your ankle. You’ll often no longer be able to put your full weight on the foot because of the pain. Sometimes, a feeling of instability can also arise.
Initial measures for a suspected ligament tear
To prevent further injury, it is best to follow the RICE method:
- Rest: stop putting weight on the joint as quickly as possible.
- Ice: cool the affected area to combat swelling and inflammation of the joint.
- Compression and Elevation: apply a compression bandage and keep your leg raised. With these measures, you can slow down the swelling of your ankle joint.
In addition, you should be examined by a doctor as quickly as possible so that they can establish the type and severity of your injury. Our specialists at Schoen Clinic have years of experience in handling sports injuries and can recommend suitable treatment.