A high ankle sprain is an injury to the ligament that connects the shin bone and the fibula. This type of injury occurs when the ankle is forcefully twisted, or the leg twists inward while the foot is planted.
High ankle sprains can take longer to heal than regular ankle sprains. If they're not treated, the ankle joint can become weak and more likely to get injured again.
Different types of treatment may be necessary depending on how severe the ankle injury is. For a milder injury that doesn't impede joint function, basic care like a splint, boot, or walking cast, as well as physical therapy, may be enough. A more serious high ankle injury, however, may require surgery.
Home Remedies: RICE Treatment
If the ankle joint is stable, meaning the bones are not out of place, a high ankle sprain can usually be treated with the RICE method and immobilization. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
Resting the ankle, applying ice to reduce swelling, compressing the ankle with an elastic bandage, and elevating the ankle above the heart level will help reduce swelling and speed up the healing process. In some cases, the ankle may need to be immobilized in a cast or splint to allow the ligaments to heal properly.
The RICE method stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
1. Rest the injured joint as much as possible. This means you should not walk or stand on your ankle if you have injured it. You should avoid putting any weight on it.
2. Apply ice to the injured joint for 20 minutes, several times a day. This helps reduce swelling and inflammation.
3. Use a compression bandage to help reduce swelling by applying pressure to the affected area. This pressure helps to prevent fluid from building up and can also help to reduce pain.
4. Elevate the injured joint above the heart level to help reduce swelling. The foot elevation helps reduce swelling and pain by allowing the blood to flow back to the heart more easily.
It is important to keep the injured joint as still as possible to help it heal. This can be done with a brace, splint, or cast, usually paired with crutches if you need to move around. Another option is a special boot that allows you to walk while keeping the foot and ankle in a stable position so the injury can heal.
Over-the-Counter (OTC) Therapies
The best way to reduce pain and swelling from a high ankle sprain is to take over-the-counter pain medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil or Motrin B (ibuprofen), Tylenol (acetaminophen), and Aleve (naproxen) can all help to reduce pain and swelling.
Your healthcare provider will be able to help you choose a pain reliever that is most likely to work well for you based on other medications you are already taking.
If you have a high ankle sprain that is so severe that your ankle is no longer stable, you may need to have corrective surgery. This is usually necessary when the ligament that is affected is completely torn. The standard procedure for repairing a severe high ankle sprain involves placing one or two screws between the tibia and fibula to hold the two bones together, relieving pressure on the ligaments and allowing them to heal properly.
After a ligament has healed, some surgeons remove the screws so the bones can move normally. Others recommend leaving the screws in place. The potential problem is that screws can break under repetitive stress and must be removed surgically. Physical therapy can help you heal and recover after an injury or surgery by improving strength, range of motion, and balance.
A high ankle sprain is a type of sprain that is more severe and difficult to treat than a regular ankle sprain. These sprains are common among athletes who participate in high-impact sports such as football, hockey, basketball, and lacrosse. This is why players should be careful about returning to their sport after an injury.
Atlanta Bone and Joint Specialists’ board-certified orthopedic surgeons have performed knee and hip replacement surgeries for over 50 years. Our Atlanta Orthopedic surgeons are on the cutting edge of technology, using the newest ceramics, metal technology, and minimally invasive approaches to ensure better outcomes for your knee and hip replacement. If you need high ankle sprain surgery, we can help. Get in touch with us to set a scheduled appointment.