What is a high ankle sprain and how can it be diagnosed and treated? Learn more about this type of ankle joint sprain here.
Ankle injuries can occur for a number of reasons. Many athletes endure them at one point or another during their career. A high ankle sprain or a syndesmotic ankle sprain can be particularly debilitating and can lead to a long period of recovery. They’re much rarer than low-ankle sprains and often happen to football players at all levels. High ankle sprains can also occur from non-contact activities forcing the foot in an unnatural direction.
A high ankle sprain happens when there is damage to the ligaments around the upper part of the ankle. Any sort of twisting or unnatural rotation around this area causing an outward turning of the foot can result in this injury. A person may be able to place weight on the injury and walk around afterward, which can cause a delay in determining the extent of damage to the area.
There may be pain above the ankle as well as the deltoid ligament located around the inside ankle. Performing a squeeze test to see determines if there is a high ankle sprain. This test is done by pinching the area located just above the knee. The injured person then indicates whether they feel any discomfort traveling down the leg to the high ankle ligaments.
Most physicians will also order an x-ray to rule out any bone break. They may request a particular type called a stress view since soft tissue injuries can be challenging to assess on a standard x-ray. It may be necessary to order a CT scan or MRI scan to get an accurate view of the high ankle sprain. High ankle sprains are given grades of mild, moderate, or severe depending on the results found on the images.
Treating a high ankle sprain demands that the tibia and fibula are positioned correctly in relation to each other. Injuries without a related broken bone can be iced for 20 minutes every two to three hours, then compressed with an elastic bandage and allowed to rest in an elevated position.
Significant tenderness to the area may require the temporary placement of a walking boot to keep the injury from getting worse. A physician may also recommend using weight-bearing therapy to strengthen the area around the high ankle sprain.
High ankle sprain recovery time varies depending on the severity of the injury. Returning to activity within six weeks of the injury is possible. Sometimes, it can take up to three months for this type of soft tissue damage to fully heal.
It is important for patients to follow the recommendations and recovery guides of therapists to go through a full range of exercises early on. Doing this keeps the area from getting stiff. Care should be taken not to overextend beyond the current capability of the injury. Patients should let their doctor know if they are not seeing some improvement after six weeks of healing.
Have you ever experienced a high ankle sprain? How was the recovery process? Share your story with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.
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