High ankle sprains are uncommon, but treatable with patience and diligent care. Read on to understand why these injuries are especially irregular:
A sprain may not be as serious as a broken bone, but it can be every bit as painful and inconvenient. This is especially true of a high ankle sprain, which is fairly uncommon but typically takes longer to heal than other sprains, making them a dreaded injury for athletes.
What is a high ankle sprain?
High ankle sprains, sometimes called syndesmotic sprains, affect the ligaments connecting the tibia and fibula bones in the lower leg. These are considered "high" in relation to where sprains usually occur; high ankle sprains actually happen above the ankle and are a result of an outward twisting (rather than the inward rotation seen in lateral ankle sprains). These injuries are most often seen in sports that involve "cutting in" football, roller derby, pro wrestling, track and ice hockey, for example.
In most cases, the wellknown and highly effective RICE technique will be implemented:
- Rest - Staying off of the affected leg as much as possible is essential
- Ice - Applying ice packs to the area will help keep swelling down
- Compression - This may involve wrapping with a bandage at home or a doctor immobilizing the area with a cast
- Elevation - The leg should be propped up to the level of the heart. This promotes adequate circulation
Healing from high ankle sprains is dependent on the damage to the ligaments and can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Some of these sprains are found to be "unstable" and may require surgery. In most cases, regardless of the injury's severity, patients will use crutches to avoid putting weight on the ankle.
The ultimate goal in treating any sprain is to avoid loss of motion and scar tissue buildup. Your podiatrist will be able to evaluate the damage caused by your high ankle sprain and treat it accordingly.