Like it or not, ankle sprains are common in active individuals–particularly among runners and other athletes. In fact, if you regularly participate in sports, chances are likely that you will have an ankle sprain at some point in your life, most likely when your joint is twisted or turned in a way it shouldn’t be, causing ligaments to tear. No matter how you receive one, ankle sprains are frustrating and can really hurt. Fortunately, many sprains can be treated with a simple combination of rest and time.
But how many sprains are too many? I often treat New Yorkers who suffer from repeat ankle sprains, despite the steps they take to prevent them from occurring. Sometimes, their consistent injuries are accompanied by ongoing ankle instability. For those patients, it’s not just painful; it’s also debilitating and it can keep them from the activities that they love. If regular ankle sprains or chronic instability are a part of your life, it might be time to consider an ankle ligament reconstruction.
During the procedure, you’ll be placed under general anesthesia. The approach to fixing an injured or torn ligament will vary depending on the extent of your damage. No matter, you can expect that the ankle will be opened up and the ligaments will be repaired or reattached with stitches or sutures. All in all, the surgery will take around an hour to complete.
Recovery time for a reconstruction surgery includes several months of being off your ankle and completing physical therapy treatments. In the first few days following your procedure, you will have a splint or cast custom fit to support your ankle. You’ll be asked to use crutches for a couple of weeks, and then you should be able to place pressure on the joint with the help of a walking boot.
The most important aspect of your recovery will be physical therapy, which will help improve your range of motion and get your ankle as strong as it can be so that you can continue your favorite activities again. To receive the best possible outcome, it is essential that you be patient, work with a physical therapist, and stick to your assigned recovery techniques. Even if you feel like your joint is improving on its own, don’t think that you should stop or reduce your recovery plan before you are told to. Doing so can have adverse effects on the final result.
The ultimate goal is to have an ankle joint that is stronger than before and allows you to continue your normal routine without the fear of continued sprains. However, a ligament reconstruction is not a perfect cure to your ankle woes. You should continue to be mindful of the pressure that you place on your joint and not take it for granted. We can discuss options for preventing sprains down the line, like using protective footwear and braces for support when working out or playing sports.
If you have chronic ankle instability or continually find yourself with an ankle sprain, a ligament reconstruction could be a game changer in your life. I’d be happy to speak with you about if the procedure is the right option for your situation. Don’t hesitate to call with questions.