Spotlight on High Ankle Sprains in Sports

Most ankle sprains affect the ligaments located on the outside of the joint. Athletes, however, may be susceptible to high ankle sprains, which affect the ligaments above the ankle, which connect the fibula and tibia. This type of sprained ankle can sideline an athlete for quite a while, so it’s important to work with a podiatrist in Chicago on a treatment and rehabilitation plan.

Causes and Risk Factors

Like other ankle sprains, a high ankle sprain is caused by a rotational force, which damages and may tear the ankle ligaments. The tibia and fibula are the two shin bones. The space between these bones naturally becomes wider with movements, such as jumping, running, and changing directions. This causes some tugging on the ligaments above the ankle. If the force on the ligaments is excessive, tearing can occur. Some high ankle sprains are accompanied by a broken bone.

Athletes who play the following sports are at an increased risk:

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Hockey
  • Wrestling

Signs and Symptoms

The severity of the symptoms increases if the injury is more severe. If a fracture is present, the athlete may be unable to place weight on the leg. The pain caused by this injury tends to be localized just above the ankle. Swelling and bruising are other common symptoms.

Treatment and Recovery

Since this type of sprained ankle can also involve a broken bone, the treatment will depend on the full extent and severity of the injuries. Rest, ice packs, gentle compression, and elevation of the ankle are the standard treatments for a mild to moderate high ankle sprain that isn’t accompanied by a fracture. Some athletes may also need a walking boot, and physical therapy is recommended for a complete recovery.

If the injury is more severe and the bones are unstable, a foot doctor may perform surgery. A surgical screw will hold the bones in place until the area is completely healed. After this point, the screw will need to be surgically removed. In severe cases, the recovery may last six months.