Lateral Ligament Ankle Sprain: How To Treat It Properly
A lateral ligament ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments outside the ankle are stretched beyond their limits. Injury to these ligaments causes pain and swelling in the ankle. Generally, most sprained lateral ligaments are minor and will improve with simple treatments. However, severe cases can weaken the ankle leading to repeated lateral ligament sprains and chronic ankle pain. So, how do you diagnose a tear of the ankle ligaments, and what do you do?
Fact Sheet Ankle Ligament Reconstruction
- Inpatient treatment: 2 days
- Outpatient rehabilitation treatment required: 4 weeks
- Earliest flight home: 5 days after surgery
- Recommended flight home: 7 days after surgery
- Time before showering: 12 days
- Recommended time off work: 6 weeks
- Time before removal of sutures: 12 days
- Time before driving a car: 6 weeks
Ankle ligament reconstructionis a surgical treatment for chronic ankle instability when ligaments are stretched or torn . If ankle instability following rupture of the ligaments has not responded to conservative treatment , the foot and ankle specialist is able to suture the ligaments.
Where Ligament Tears Are Most Common
- Ankle:Ligament tears are most common toward the outer side of your ankle at what’s called the lateral ligament complex. It includes the anterior talofibular , the calcaneofibular , and posterior talofibular ligaments. The medial deltoid ligament, toward the inside, is injured less often. A high ankle sprain is more often seen in competitive athletes.
- Knee:The four major knee ligaments are the anterior cruciate ligament , posterior cruciate ligament , medial collateral ligament , and lateral collateral ligament . The ACL tear is the most common of these injuries.
- Wrist:There are 20 ligaments in the wrist. Tears will most often occur when you fall on an outstretched hand. The scapholunate and the triangular fibrocartilage complex are the most common ones injured.
Other common sites of ligament tears and the possible causes behind them include:
- Thumb:The ulnar collateral ligament can be torn when skiing or in a fall when the thumb is bent in an extreme position.
- Neck:The neck’s ligaments can be torn during whiplash injuries, as in a car accident. The hard speed-and-stop is an extreme motion that injures the cervical spine, the part of the spine in the neck. The ligament tear is just one part of a whiplash injury. It may also damage muscles, nerves, and bones.
- Back:The ligaments in your back can be torn by lifting something that is too heavy.
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How Is Ankle Ligament Surgery Performed
When you go for the surgery, your doctor may opt for an anatomical reconstruction or peroneal substitution ligament reconstruction.
- An anatomic reconstruction is a preferred choice and involves repairing the stretched or torn ligaments. Your surgeon may use your own tissue for reconstruction it is known as Brostrom procedure. Sometimes, they use a cadaver tendon if your own tissue is different or too stretched out. They may also tighten the band of fibrous tissue that keeps the ankle in alignment to prevent re-injury.
- A peroneal substitution ligament reconstruction involves replacing the ligament with another piece of tendon taken from your ankle. The procedure is not as effective as an anatomic reconstruction, which is mainly because the main dynamic stabilizer of the ankle is used here.
You may experience the same complications that are associated with any type of surgical procedure. These include the risks associated with infection, anesthesia, bleeding, and damage to blood vessels or nerves. The area around your incision may feel numb this usually happens in 20% of cases and some patients experience complete loss of sensation. Other complications include infection and slow wound healing.
At Home Torn Ligament Treatment
You want to help your ligament heal as well as possible. That can mean staying off of your foot for a while, depending on the severity of the injury. But when youre cleared to move around, exercise is a good choice. It not only helps you retain flexibility, but it can also help your ligaments get stronger.
That way, you can reduce the chances of an injury in the future. The treatment for torn foot ligament issues can actually involve using the ligament, as long as its done the right way.
Some of the best exercises to do at home include light cardio options such as:
- Cat and cow stretches
- Butterfly stretches
Physical therapy and a proper diet can also play roles in how well your foot ligament heals, so be sure to talk to your doctor about all the ways you can heal safely and get back to all the things you enjoy in life.
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How Do I Know That My Ankle Is Sprained Or If I Have A Torn Ankle Ligament
If your ankle ligament is damaged, you will feel immediate pain. A small tear in the ligament is characterized by mild pain. If the ligament is completely damaged, the pain will be so severe that it will make it impossible to walk. The pain in this case will be highly localized and excruciating.
In addition, you will feel severe pain on touching the site of injury. Although, the pain you feel will be consistent, but will elevate suddenly if you touch the damaged ankle ligament.
You will feel swelling 5 to 10 minutes after ligament damage. No need to worry if this happens. This is a compensatory mechanism of your body against the damage. Swelling will increase blood flow to the damaged ligament to help heal faster.
Sometimes, you also see a bruise at the site of injury. This happens when the injury or blow ruptures the blood vessels in addition to damaging the ligament. The blood leaks from the vessels and accumulates under the skin causing skin discoloration. It causes black, blue, purple, brown, or yellow discoloration. Theres no external bleeding unless the skin breaks open.
You will feel great restriction in movement at your ankle joint. Inversion and eversion at the joint are completely restricted. This is associated with the pain in the joint. As you feel pain during movement, you will automatically reduce movement at the ankle joint to avoid more pain. Restriction of movement at the damaged ankle is necessary to heal the damage quicker .
After Ankle Ligament Repair
You may be able to go home the same day or stay one night in hospital. Be sure and let a member of our Healthcare Team know if you are in any pain. You will not be able to bear weight on your foot for 10 – 14 days. Our physiotherapists will visit you and teach you how to move about using a walker or crutches.
Going home after ankle ligament repair
You will not be able to drive until released by your surgeon. Please arrange for someone to drive you home following your surgery.
To control swelling keep your leg elevated as much as possible for the first 10 – 14 days.
You will need to return for a review of your wound and suture removal . Your plaster cast will be replaced by lighter weight walking boot. After another week you will be encouraged to start partial weight bearing
You may be given exercises to help increase strength in your ankle. After 6 -10 weeks any boots or casts are usually replaced by an ankle brace. Over the next 6 weeks you may be able to increase your activity level while wearing the brace.
Be sure and discuss any return to work with your surgeon.
Most patients make a good recovery from ankle ligament repair. Any surgical procedure can result in complications:
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How Long Does It Take To Heal An Ankle Ligament
The answer to this question depends on the person and the injury. Most people heal quickly, while others take longer.
A mild ligament tear usually heals in between 1 to 3 weeks to heal properly.
A medium ligament tear generally heals between 4 and 6 weeks.
A bad ligament tear will take 3 to 6 months to heal properly.
What Are The Treatments For A Torn Ligament In The Ankle
If you’ve ever sprained your ankle, it’s likely you have experience with ligament injury 2. These structures hold bones together throughout your body. Ankle injuries most frequently affect the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Ankle ligament tear treatment may include a combination of rest, exercise and rehabilitation. Surgery is sometimes needed for severe ankle sprains.
Depending on the severity of your ligament injury, initial treatment may include anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy modalities such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation to decrease pain and swelling. As healing progresses, range-of-motion and strengthening exercises are added.
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How Can Capital Orthopaedics Help With A Torn Ligament
The team at Capital Orthopaedics is highly experienced at diagnosing and treating all ankle injuries.
Our consultant orthopaedic surgeons, led by internationally renowned surgeon Simon Moyes, work with top sports medicine professionals, physiotherapists and an in-house radiologist to ensure that you get the right diagnosis and most effective treatment.
All of the treatment plans are designed around your personal needs and lifestyle whether youre a professional sportsperson, a busy parent or an older person wanting to maintain your mobility.
Our aim is to get you back to your sports and everyday life with the least intervention, in the quickest time possible, and the lowest chance of re-injury or ongoing problems.
If you have injured your ankle and are suffering from ongoing symptoms, contact the team at Capital Orthopaedics here for more information or to book an appointment with one of our musculoskeletal experts.
How To Heal Torn Ankle Tendons
Even though the tendons in the ankle and foot are very complex. the healing process is the same 3 step process as for any other injury
Step one is called the inflammatory response. The injured area will go through a kind of quarantine and the area will swell and become immobile, while the body prepares to start the actual healing process. This step occurs almost instantly after the injury to protect it from further damage.
Step two is the repair. This is when the body sends in waves of powerful immune cells to help repair the damaged tendons. This step is particularly important in the first 24-48 hours after the injury.
Finally, step three is called the remodel. In this last step, the body attempts to remodel the tendons back to full strength. This requires rebuilding the tendons and ensuring they can function normally in all ranges of motion, without limitation.
Now, if any one of these steps is impaired or sabotaged in any way, then it can affect the entire healing process Think of it like a domino effect. Each step follows in a common sense way and you do not want to disrupt any part of it. In fact, what you really want to do is support and encourage each step to function at its maximum capacity. That is how you will heal fully and quickly.
And that brings us to the #1 mistake people make when they get injured. ICE. We have written a number of articles on the danger of using ice after an injury, but if you would like to learn more about it, please .
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Symptoms Of A Torn Ligament
A ligament tear is painful and tender to the touch. You may see swelling and bruising. It may be difficult to move the joint. In the case of some ligaments, you may hear a pop or feel tearing at the time of the injury. It may also cause you to have muscle spasms.
Ligaments support and strengthen joints. Their main function is to keep the bones of the skeleton in proper alignment and prevent abnormal movements of the joints.
A torn ligament makes the joint harder to move. It makes the joint looser than usual, which means you are unable to move the joint normally.
How To Strengthen Your Ankle After A Sprain
To recover from an ankle sprain fully, you’ll need to restore the normal range of motion to your ankle joint and strengthen its ligaments and supporting muscles. Studies have shown that people return to their normal activities sooner when their treatment emphasizes restoring ankle function often with the aid of splints, braces, taping, or elastic bandages rather than immobilization . Called functional treatment, this strategy usually involves three phases: the RICE regimen in the first 24 hours to reduce pain, swelling, and risk of further injury range-of-motion and ankle strengthening exercises within 4872 hours and training to improve endurance and balance once recovery is well under way.
Generally, you can begin range-of-motion and stretching exercises within the first 48 hours and should continue until you’re as free of pain as you were before your sprain. Start to exercise seated on a chair or on the floor. As your sprained ankle improves, you can progress to standing exercises. If your symptoms aren’t better in two to four weeks, you may need to see a physical therapist or other specialist.
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When Should I See A Healthcare Provider For A Sprained Ankle
You should talk to a healthcare provider if you have:
- Inability to use the ankle joint as you could before.
- Looseness or weakness in the ankle.
- Swelling around the ankle joint.
- Trouble putting weight on the ankle or foot.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Ankle ligaments are bands of tissue that connect the foot bones with the lower leg bones. Injuries to the ankle ligaments are very common and can range from mild to severe. Talk to a healthcare provider if you have a bad ankle injury or repeat ankle sprains. Proper diagnosis and treatment can help prevent pain and future injuries.
How Long Does It Take To Recover
Before you are discharged from hospital, you will be given crutches and shown how to use them to help you walk. Recovery from ankle ligament surgery requires wearing a cast or splint for a minimum of two weeks, and in this initial period it is crucial to rest your ankle as much as you can. After the two-week mark, you will be given a support boot, although you should continue to refrain from bearing weight on your foot until between four and six weeks post-surgery, depending on your individual case.
Many patients can return to work five to six weeks after their operation, even in cases where their job involves manual work or walking. At this point, you should also be able to resume low impact sporting activities, but should refrain from higher impact exercise until at least ten to twelve weeks post-surgery. You should be able to start driving a manual car, if advised by your consultant, but check with your car insurance company first.
For more details about recovering from ankle ligament reconstruction surgery, read our .
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What To Expect During The First Two Weeks
After the surgery, you will be placed in a non weight-bearing plaster splint. You will be given crutches at the surgery center. If you have difficulty using crutches, you may want to obtain a knee scooter or roll-about from a medical supply store. Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of a knee scooter, though a prescription is often required. Please contact the office at least two weeks in advance if you would like a prescription for a scooter. It is recommended that you keep your leg elevated above the level of your heart most of the time for the first 72 hours after your surgery. This will decrease both swelling and pain. Keep dressings dry at all times. For showering, consider covering the splint in a garbage bag, securely taping the edges. Alternatively, you may obtain a cast-cover at the office, and they are also available at the office and at most drugstores. They cost approximately $30 and are reusable. Do not attempt to remove the splint at any time.
How Long Is The Recovery From Ankle Surgery
Outcomes vary on study design, the specific type of surgery, and patient demographics. In one recent study athletes who underwent lateral ankle ligament tear surgery returned to training on average at 9 weeks . Return to sports took longer and was 11 weeks on average. If there were other injuries such as trauma to the cartilage, return to training was longer, at 12 weeks on average, and return to sports was 15 weeks.
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Ankle Ligament Damage And Rehabilitation
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains that ligaments are strong bands of fibrous tissue that connect one bone to another. An ankle sprain occurs when your ligaments are stretched beyond their limits, causing them to tear. Bruising, swelling, tenderness and instability are some of the symptoms of an ankle sprain.
Ankle sprains are extremely common musculoskeletal injuries a June 2013 study published in the âKnee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopyâ journal notes that ankle sprains account for 7 to 10 percent of all emergency room admissions. According to Harvard Health Publishing, people of all ages, regardless of whether they’re couch potatoes or athletes, can sustain this injury.
If you suspect that you might have an ankle sprain, you should visit your doctor immediately. He or she will be able to assess the severity of the sprain and recommend a treatment plan accordingly.
An August 2013 study published in the âArchives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeryâ found that most cases of ankle sprains can be treated without surgery. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says your treatment plan will probably include the RICE protocol, which includes rest, ice, compression and elevation. Depending on the severity of the sprain, your ankle can take anywhere between two to 12 weeks to recover and you may require crutches, a cast or a brace.
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