Torn Ankle Ligament
We’ll make your foot stable again
Ligament tear or rupture in the ankle joint is one of the most common sports injuries. It typically occurs when you twist or roll your ankle. At Schoen Clinic, we employ experts specialised in sports injuries. Often, conservative treatment without surgery is sufficient for a ligament rupture. You’ll be in safe hands with our specialists, whatever your situation. Together, we can find a way to heal your injury without any after-effects.
The ankle joint – how is it structured?
There is an upper and lower ankle joint. The upper ankle joint is located between your calf and ankle bone and lets you bend and stretch your foot. The lower ankle joint is located between your ankle bone and tarsal bone. This lets you move your foot sideways, allowing you to walk across uneven surfaces without difficulty.
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 fibia bone, as well as your external and internal ligaments, stabilise your foot.
Torn Ankle Ligament Symptoms
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 foul in football, can also cause ligament rupture. In general, ball sports such as tennis, basketball and volleyball carry a high risk of injury. In addition, these types of accidents can lead to bone fractures or joint damages. Tendons can also be damaged.
Signs of a ligament rupture of the ankle joint
After your ankle rolls, a sudden shooting pain typically occurs. The first signs of a ligament tear are severe swelling and bruising. 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.
Diagnosis: how did the accident happen?
To make a reliable diagnosis, we ask you to describe the accident in detail, and we thoroughly examine your ankle joint. This helps us determine the type and extent of your injury. It might not be just a ligament sprain – it could be a ligament rupture.
X-ray images show the extent of the injury
We may conduct an x-ray examination to rule out bone damages. The position of the bones, for example, may indicate damages to non-bone joint sections.
Checks provide security
Because we cannot directly examine your ankle joint immediately after the accident, an additional check-up will be needed after a few days. At the time of the check-up, your pain will typically have greatly decreased, allowing for targeted examination. Between examinations, your ankle joint will be placed in a splint and unburdened using underarm crutches. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can also sometimes be beneficial. This provides a particularly clear view of any soft tissue or cartilage injuries.
Torn ankle ligament: surgery only in exceptional cases
We conduct the treatment that’s right for you, based on your diagnosis. In many cases, we are able to treat the ligament tear in the ankle joint effectively using conservative treatment. Surgical treatment should only be considered for complete tears of all ligament sections and for high-performance athletes. In addition, if the joint was no longer fully stable due to previous injuries at the time the ankle was twisted, surgery may be required.
Conservative treatment with an ankle splint (ligament tear brace)
First, we stabilise the joint over six weeks using an ankle splint (ligament tear brace). If you no longer have any pain, you’ll even be able to put your full weight on your foot again. Otherwise, you should only apply enough weight to cause a minimal amount of pain. The ankle splint prevents twisting recurring and can reliably heal your injured ligament sections. In the first few weeks, we can also prescribe pain medication at any time.
Torn ankle ligament: surgery if the joint remains unstable
Up to 20% of the time there will still be instability in your joint after three months, even with intensive physiotherapy. In this case, we recommend an additional thorough examination to uncover the causes. If it turns out that your external ligament has not healed in a sufficiently stable manner, we can extend conservative treatment. Surgical stabilisation of the ligaments is another option. After surgery, your ankle joint must be immobilised in a plaster splint for two weeks. Afterwards, this can typically be changed to a stabilising bandage. In the first two weeks, you will need to take your weight off the leg that was operated on using underarm crutches. We prescribe medication to guard against thrombosis until you are able to apply your full weight in a special-made shoe.
For rare internal ligament tears and tears of the connective tissue-like bone connections (syndesmotic ligament tears), we recommend surgery immediately. The earlier this is operated on, the better the outcome will be.
Torn Ligament in Ankle Recovery Time
Your foot needs time to heal
In most cases, ankle joint ligament injuries heal without complications. But you need to be patient. Use your underarm crutches carefully for support in the first few days and weeks. Intensive physiotherapy and foot training will only be beneficial after your symptoms have subsided. You should then start putting more weight on your foot in stages.