Ligament Injuries

Ligament injuries to the ankle are the most common sports injury. There are three ligaments on the outside and one on the inside of the ankle. The ligaments on the outside are regularly injured in a typical ankle sprain. Fortunately, surgery is rarely necessary, as these injuries heal without surgical intervention.

The mainstay of treatment for ligament injuries is correct stretching and sometimes an ankle brace may be needed for four to six weeks followed by custom made orthotics. It can however take months to recover fully from an ankle sprain.

In addition to the ligaments mentioned above, there are ligaments which join the two long bones of the ankle (tibia and fibula). This ligament is called the syndesmosis. If this ligament is injured, pain is felt slightly higher than with conventional ligament injuries, hence the expression “the high ankle sprain”.

These injuries can be severe, take longer to heal and are frequently missed. It is therefore important that they are diagnosed properly by a specialist. Some of these sprains need to be repaired in order to avoid long term damage. In addition to ligament injuries, there are other structures that are at risk of injury when the ankle is 'sprained' such as tendons and the cartilage of the joint.


As there are so many structures in the foot and ankle that are at risk of being injured, it is important to seek early specialist advice. Often, the worst thing one can do with a significant “sprain” is to ignore it. Walking off the pain usually just doesn’t work and can reduce long term healing. With appropriate treatment, following foot and ankle injuries, it is possible to return to normal activities faster and long term problems can be prevented.







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