Ankle Ligament Damage

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Foot & Ankle Conditions

Foot & Ankle Physicians

Joshua C. Luginbuhl
Alan S. Tuckman

The ankle is made of two joints that are held together by three strong fibrous tissues called ligaments, which connect bone to bone. Ligament damage can occur as a result of a sprain, which stretches it, or partial or complete tears.

A stretched ligament can occur when the foot twists, rolls or turns beyond its normal range of motion. Common causes include landing hard on the ankle, stepping onto an uneven surface, playing sports, weakness of the ankle muscles, or trauma.

Some individuals hear a “popping” sound when the injury takes place and have difficulty putting weight on the foot or walking. Pain is usually the first symptom of a sprained ankle. Swelling, stiffness, and bruising may occur right away or take a few hours to develop. Your physician will typically treat the injury with rest and stretching or strengthening exercises as it heals.

Ankle ligament tears may occur when the ligament is stretched too far. Common causes include a traumatic injury, stepping onto an uneven surface, or an athletic injury. The foot and ankle subspecialists at Lancaster Orthopedic Group will typically treat a partial ligament tear by immobilizing the ankle, followed by stretching and strengthening exercises.

A complete tear of the ligament may cause severe instability. It will typically be treated by immobilization to promote healing, possible surgical repair of the ligament damage, and physical therapy. In some cases of chronic pain, arthroscopic surgery may be performed to remove bone fragments, scar tissue, and damaged cartilage.

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