Syndesmotic ankle injuries are causing athletic trainers all kinds of fits. They take so long to heal and the athlete gets impatient, it’s just not an easy fix...or is it? Here are the two most important things you need to know when treating a high ankle injury:
Compressing the Tibia and Fibula
Every athletic trainer knows the high ankle injury is more severe than low ankle injuries and they take longer to heal. The ankle externally rotates which forces apart the medial and lateral aspects of the mortise, respectively the tibial and fibular malleoli. This movement can stretch or tear the ligaments and membrane that hold the tibia and fibula together. Fixing the high ankle injury involves compressing the tib/fib together which will take stress away from the damaged ligaments allowing them to heal with less pain.
The best way to compress the tib/fib together is with an ankle brace that can provide consistent compression around the entire circumference of the lower leg and ankle. It’s best to have this compression extend from the ankle joint to at least 8 inches above the malleoli. This extended area of compression provides the necessary leverage the brace needs to support the lower leg and ankle, reducing soft tissue stress.
Reduce Weight Bearing Pain
Compressing the tibia and fibula is just one part of remedying the high ankle injury - you still need to reduce the weight bearing pain associated with ankle impact on the joint. When the calcaneus impacts the ground it thrusts the talus into the tibia causing separation between the tibia and fibula. This separation causes the damaged ligaments and membrane to stretch and pain ensues. An ankle brace that can “unload” or “offload” the ankle is the best solution since this style of ankle brace has a semi-rigid bottom that can absorb the painful impact and transfer that energy to the lower leg.
If you're interested in learning more about ankle braces that are designed specifically for acute ankle injuries, and more specifically the syndesmotic ankle injury, check out our Ultra CTS® ankle brace. The Ultra CTS® (Custom Treatment System) ankle brace allows athletes with acute injuries to return to activity quickly, and virtually pain free, using the same methods as described above. If you have any questions about how the Ultra CTS® can help your athlete get back in the game sooner, send us a message and we'd be happy to help.
Written by Rick Peters
Rick Peters is a Certified Athletic Trainer who has been advancing ankle bracing technology for three decades. Peters patented his first ankle brace in 1985, revolutionizing the industry by adding a hinge to traditional stirrup braces for greater mobility. In 1989 he was a founder and became President of Active Ankle Systems. In 1998 he co-founded Ultra Athlete LLC to develop the next generation of ankle bracing technology. Peters has 18 ankle brace patents and is considered an authority on ankle bracing technology worldwide.