High Ankle Sprain

Syndesmosis injury

A high ankle sprain is most commonly caused by a twisting or rotational injury or if the ankle is broken. They are also known as syndesmosis injuries.

Symptoms of a high ankle sprain

  • Ankle pain when walking
  • Difficulty putting weight through the ankle
  • Ankle swelling and bruising
  • Pain especially trying to climb stairs
  • Inability to walk on toes
Imaging for a high ankle sprain

  • Weight-bearing X-rays are recommended if patients can't walk after 48 hours
  • Ultrasound scans and MRIs can also be useful
Non operative treatment for a high ankle sprain

  • Rest, Ice, Elevation
  • Walking boot / moon boot
  • Pain medications e.g. NSAIDS such as Mobic or Panadol Osteo
  • Physiotherapy
    • strengthening of ankle tendons
    • proprioception including wobble board and stretches
  • Weight loss management
  • External lace up ankle brace support or taping
Surgery for a high ankle sprain

High ankle sprains are more at risk of instability than low ankle sprains and are more likely to require surgery.

Fixation for ankle syndesmosis

This technique is used to stabilise an ankle after injury. It can be used to repair a high ankle sprain, which damages the soft tissue structures between the tibia and fibula and causes these bones to separate. It can also be used to stabilise a fracture of the fibula. The TightRope system anchors the ends of the tibia and fibula together with a braided polyethylene cord, rather than with a rigid surgical screw, to restore the original position of the bones and to allow for proper healing.

Risks of ankle syndesmosis fixation surgery

All surgery has risks involved, however every effort is made to reduce these risks. Risks include but are not limited to:

  • Infection: superficial wounds or deep infections
  • Clots: DVT (deep venous thrombosis) or PE (pulmonary embolus)
  • Nerve damage: tingling, numbness or burning
  • Ongoing pain
  • General or anaesthetic risks including to the heart and lung
  • Drug reactions/allergy
  • Scarring or tethering of the skin
  • Calf weakness
  • Revision surgery

There are increased risks of surgery in diabetics, smokers, significant peripheral vascular disease, severe neuropathy, previous or current infection which may preclude a patient from surgery.

View FootForward for Diabetes (run by Diabetes Australia) for more information on foot care.  

For all appointments and enquiries, please phone 07 5645 6913 or email info@salusfootsurgeon.com.au

9 Kinloch Avenue
Benowa QLD 4217


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