High Ankle Sprains: Understanding the Condition and Available Treatments

High ankle sprains, also known as syndesmotic sprains, are a type of ankle injury that occurs when the ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula bones are damaged. These ligaments help to stabilize the ankle and provide support to the joint. High ankle sprains are different from traditional ankle sprains, which occur when the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are torn.

Symptoms of a high ankle sprain include pain and swelling in the ankle, difficulty walking, and a feeling of instability in the joint. In severe cases, there may also be a loss of range of motion in the ankle. There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing a high ankle sprain, including:

  1. Participating in high-impact sports: Sports such as soccer, basketball, and football can put excessive stress on the ankle and increase the risk of injury.
  2. Wearing improper footwear: Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support or cushioning can increase the risk of ankle injury.
  3. Previous ankle injury: Individuals who have previously sustained an ankle injury are more likely to develop a high ankle sprain in the future.

Diagnosing a high ankle sprain is typically done through a physical examination of the ankle, as well as imaging tests such as stress X-rays or MRI scans. These tests can help determine the extent of the injury and rule out other conditions. Treatment for a high ankle sprain depends on the severity of the injury. In mild cases, rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers may be enough to manage the pain and promote healing. For more severe cases, the following treatments may be necessary:

  1. Immobilization: A brace or cast may be used to immobilize the ankle and allow it to heal.
  2. Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help improve flexibility, strength, and stability in the ankle, reducing the risk of further injury.
  3. Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help manage pain and swelling. In severe cases, a prescription-strength nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) may be prescribed.

In cases where conservative treatments are not effective, surgical intervention may be necessary. Surgical options for high ankle sprains include the fixation of the syndesmotic ligaments, which can help restore stability to the ankle and reduce pain. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect you have sustained a high ankle sprain. Early treatment can help prevent further injury and speed up the healing process. Your foot and ankle surgeon can recommend the best course of treatment for your individual needs and guide you through the recovery process.

In conclusion, high ankle sprains are a type of ankle injury that can cause significant pain and discomfort. Treatment options range from conservative measures, such as rest and physical therapy, to surgical intervention in severe cases. If you are experiencing pain or instability in the ankle, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to ensure proper treatment and a successful recovery.