High ankle sprains, also known as syndesmotic ankle sprains, are sprains of the syndesmotic ligaments that connect the tibia and the fibula on the lower leg. These types of ankle sprains are classified as “high” sprains because of their location on the lower leg is above the ankle. High ankle sprains occur when the lower leg and foot twist outward, unlike common ankle sprains, which occur when ligaments around the ankle are torn or receive injury through an inward twisting motion.
High ankle sprains are diagnosed by means of a dull or sharp pain within the outside front of the lower leg, above the ankle. When twisting is applied to that region of the leg, a sharper pain usually occurs. High ankle sprains are harder to diagnose in comparison to common ankle sprains, as the swelling is usually minor or nonexistent when compared to common ankle sprains, and because of this, the severity of the injury is commonly underestimated. One way of high ankle sprain diagnosis is by administering the squeeze test, which is performed by squeezing the calf or lower leg of the injured leg while simultaneously turning it slightly. I diagnosis may also be made by way of a CT scan or radiographs.
The treatment administered to a high ankle sprain all depends on the severity of the sprain. Some athletes that suffer from a high ankle sprain can be out for two to three weeks, while others have been known to be out for as long as six months. Like common ankle sprains, physicians use the “PRICE” technique for healing, which involves protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. When a physician diagnoses an individual with a high ankle sprain, they will then determine if the injury is stable or unstable. Stable injuries are high ankle sprains that are less severe, and involve the tibia and the fibula remaining normal. Unstable high ankle sprains occur when two or even all three of the syndesmotic ligaments are torn within the leg, and the tibia and fibula are free to move around. Unstable injuries require a more rigorous treatment schedule, and commonly surgery. During surgery, one or two screws have to be inserted into the lower leg for a few months, or until the ligaments have reformed and are able to retain the bones in their proper positions. When surgery is needed as a form of treatment, recovery typically takes 6 or more months.
Symptoms of a high ankle sprain usually involve pain with the ankle movement and when the area is touched in general. Typically, when a high ankle sprain is more severe, there is usually swelling around the injured area, making it painful for the individual to walk. High ankle sprains can be severe to the point of excruciating pain, resulting in the individual not being able to walk at all. A swollen ankle is typical, and if the ankle is dislocated, there may be visible deformity.
Always consult a physician before treating high ankle sprains.