Although ankle syndesmosis injuries comprise less than 10% percent of all ankle injuries, they are such important structures that they require urgent assessment and treatment. It is vital to remember that an ankle syndesmosis injury is more complex than a simple ankle sprain. The healing time is at least twice as long, and getting back to normal activity is usually a more gradual process.
The diagnosis of syndesmosis injuries is usually made by examining the ankle. If an injury is suspected, a further MRI assessment is required since this type of injury frequently will cause a fracture and it is crucial that this is identified and treated urgently if present.
Treatment of a syndesmosis injury will vary according to the severity of the injury. Severe injuries will require surgery while minor and moderate injuries can be treated successfully under Advanced Physio’s care, including rehabilitation exercises.
- Mild syndesmosis sprains are treated much like a regular ankle sprain. Treatment includes mild pain medications and anti-inflammatory medicine. Patients rest the ankle for a short time to reduce swelling and pain.
- Moderate syndesmosis injuries can be treated non-surgically. Patients may be placed in a cast for four-six weeks. They use crutches to keep from putting weight on the foot during this time. After four weeks, patients are placed in a walking boot and allowed to gradually place more weight on their foot over another three to four weeks. Treatment gradually intensifies over a three-month period. Moderate syndesmosis injuries require patients to follow a program of rehabilitation exercises. Advanced Physio develops specific programs to help patients regain ankle function. It is very important to improve strength and coordination in the ankle.
- Severe cases of syndesmosis injuries require surgery. Rehabilitation after surgery can be a slow process. Patients will required physiotherapy for two to three months, and could take up to six months to make a full recovery. After surgery, Advanced Physio’s initial first therapy treatments are designed to help control pain and swelling from the surgery. Later, our tailored exercise program is used to improve the strength in the patient’s ankle muscles. Our skilled therapist will also help you regain position sense in the ankle joint to improve its stability. A careful progression to running and other impact activities begins a minimum of 12 weeks after surgery.
At Advanced Physio, our physiotherapists’ goal is to help patients keep their pain under control, improve their range of motion, and maximize strength and control in the injured ankle