High Ankle Sprain
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It takes longer for a High Ankle Sprain to heal than a low ankle sprain due to the complex nature of the joint, meaning that high ankle sprains typically involve injury to more than one structure. A Grade one injury usually takes 6-8 weeks to heal, while a Grade two sprain can take up to 3 months to heal. Complete ruptures of the syndesmosis may require surgery, which can take 12 months to recover from, including surgical fixation and physical therapy afterwards.
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It is common for swelling within a grade one high ankle sprain to sit in the joint for up to 6 weeks post-injury, while a high-grade sprain may have residual swelling for 3-6 months. It is essential to keep the ankle moving with non-impact activities such as swimming or cycling, as this helps pump the fluid out of the joint.
High Ankle Sprains take a long time to recover as they can affect multiple structures within the joint such as the ligaments, syndesmosis and cartilage. In contrast, a low ankle sprain often only involves the lateral ligaments. The lateral ligaments aren’t placed under much strain when walking or moving in a straight line, so increasing cardiovascular exercise can be more straightforward. At the same time, a High Ankle Sprain affects most ankle movements, making it difficult to increase exercise capacity without irritating the joint.
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Low-grade ankle sprains don’t require surgery unless there are some secondary complications such as scar tissue formation causing an ankle impingement. These may require an arthroscopy, but this is rare. Grade three high ankle sprains or complete rupture lead to an unstable ankle and usually require surgical fixation to the joint.
An MRI is the gold standard form of scan for a High Ankle Sprain. If there is a severe disruption to the syndesmosis or an ankle dislocation, you can see this on an x-ray. However, it does not provide any information on the integrity of the soft tissue structures.
In theory, a break is worse than a High Ankle Sprain, but most clean breaks or hairline fractures heal well without complications in 6 weeks. However, a High Ankle Sprain can take up to 3 months to recover and often, there are secondary compensation injuries due to the lengthy nature of recovery.
This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack. He offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.
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