Ankle ligament injury treatment
A 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. A torn ligament is often painful and causes swelling in the injured foot, meaning that you can no longer walk without pain.
At Schoen Clinic, we employ experts specialised in sports injuries. Often, conservative treatment without surgery is sufficient for a ligament rupture. Whatever your situation, you will be in safe hands and together, we will effectively heal your injury and provide you with the best possible outcome.
The ankle joint – how is it structured?
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 i.e. when 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 harmed in these injuries. These types of 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.
Symptoms: 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 will 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.
Causes: how does a ligament tear of the ankle joint occur?
In 85% of cases, a ligament rupture of the ankle joint happens due to the ankle rolling while walking. External forces can also cause ligament rupture. This is often the case in football, during a foul. 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.
To make a reliable diagnosis, we ask you to describe the nature of the injury in detail and thoroughly examine your ankle joint. Scans are likely to be requested to ensure the diagnosis is right. This helps us determine the type and extent of your injury and the best treatment plan for you.
In order to rule out any bone damage, we may conduct an X-ray examination. Plain X-rays are important to rule out a fracture but often appear normal in a typical ankle sprain or ligament tear. X-rays will not be able to differentiate between a high or low grade ligament injury or injuries that cause cartilage damage or subtle fractures. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans are often required to further investigate as they can produce detailed images of the body that X-rays cannot.