Ankle Joint Ligament Sprains

Ligament injuries of the ankle are the most common of all sporting injuries. Every sprain causes damage to the stabilising tissues of the joint with bleeding, swelling and tenderness. The damage to the ligament can be partial or total. Sometimes a small portion of bone is torn away at the point of ligamentous attachment, whilst the ligament itself remains intact.

In about 70% of ankle joint injuries the anterior talofibular ligament is injured. In 20% of cases the calcaneofibular ligament is also involved. The mechanism of injury is usually a rolling over of the outside of the foot. The inside (deltoid) ligaments can also be damaged, however this is much less common.

The treatment of an ankle joint sprain depends entirely on the severity of the injury and the structures injured. Such injuries must be immediately treated with Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Physiotherapy and medications will prevent further swelling and assist in the removal of excess swelling, thus speeding recovery. The healing of an ankle joint ligament can take 2-8 weeks and problems can remain for up to 8-10 months after the incident. Treatment is directed towards regaining full pain free movement of the ankle, full strength of the surrounding musculature and full proprioception (position sense) of the joint. An untreated ligament injury can lead to permanent instability with recurrent sprains. If necessary a ligament can be sutured together or reconstructed by surgery.

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