What is a high ankle sprain?

The ‘syndesmosis’ injury is a term that is in the news in the AFL frequently, however it isn’t something that the general public are too familiar with. 

The syndesmosis is a joint which connects the Tibia (main shin bone) with the Fibula (lateral leg bone). As opposed to a standard ankle ligament injury, which are lower in the ankle, involving some or all of the lateral ankle ligaments or deltoid ligaments (medial ankle ligaments), the syndesmosis sits slightly higher up the leg, hence it is often referred to as a “high ankle sprain”. 

A generic “rolled ankle” is caused by excessive inversion (rolling out) of the ankle joint, whereas a syndesmosis injury is often caused by forceful external rotation slightly proximal to the ankle joint. The pain felt in a syndesmosis injury is above the malleolus (the knuckle of the ankle), whereas the pain is felt below the malleolus in a generic rolled ankle. 

To confirm the diagnosis of a syndesmosis injury, thorough physical examination and/or imaging needs to be conducted. If there is deemed to be a syndesmosis tear, seeing a surgeon is necessary, and they will be able to determine whether surgical intervention will be needed. 

Surgical intervention has advanced recently, in previous times a screw would be placed in between the tibia and fibula to hold the joint together. Nowadays they are doing what is known as “tightrope surgery”, which is placing a tightrope between the two bones, holding them together – reducing the risk of further complications and speeding up the recovery.

Athletes who injured their syndesmosis would be out for the remainder of the season, however with this innovative surgery athletes are usually able to return to competition in 6-10 weeks. This is good news for the Cats, who currently have superstar midfielder Patrick Dangerfield on the sidelines with a syndesmosis injury. He is currently scheduled to return to the team in the second half of the year. He will undergo thorough testing to ensure his ankle is stable and he is fully match fit before he is able to run out on the footy field and help Geelong’s chances at another crack at the flag!

Patrick-Dangerfield-Image: Channel Nine https://wwos.nine.com.au/

Our highly skilled team are able to help with rehabilitation of the ankle at Sole Podiatry. This involves strengthening of the structures around the ankle, and proprioceptive exercises which improves the connection between the brain and the injured body part in space. We will be able to determine what is needed to ensure a proper recovery from any type of ankle injury. We can also assist with identifying risk factors associated with ankle sprains and help to develop strategies to reduce your chances of developing a serious ankle injury.

Should you need any help with any ankle injuries or ongoing ankle pain, or need some advice regarding prevention of ankle sprains, click the book now button to schedule an appointment with our of our Podiatrists. 

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