High Ankle Sprain

Editor: Dr. Amy Spencer, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC, CSCS, CKTP - A Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopedic Physical Therapy and Certified Manual Therapist. Owner and Physical Therapist, Specialized Physical Therapy in North Reading, MA.

The ligament joining the two bones of the lower leg (tibia and fibula) is called the syndesmotic ligament. When this ligament is torn or stressed, it will result in Specialized Physical Therapy High Ankle Spraina high ankle sprain. A high ankle sprain causes pain and swelling similar to a true ankle sprain, but it can take longer to heal. High ankle sprains are graded similar to true ankle sprains on a 1 to 3 scale.

Symptoms of High Ankle Sprain:

  • Severe pain
  • Inability to walk
  • Significant bruising
  • Minor swelling
  • Pain when you attempt to rotate the ankle outward

Causes of High Ankle Sprain:

  • A high ankle sprain occurs from a forceful twisting or outward rotational injury at the ankle. This injury is more common in football, hockey, wrestling, and soccer. In these sports there is a higher chance of becoming tangled under another person.
  • Another way to injure these ligaments is by excessive dorsiflexion. This means the toes are forced toward the shin beyond their normal range. This can occur when an athlete has a foot planted and falls or is pushed forward. In either event the pulling apart of the two bones causes the ligaments to tear.

Syndesmotic injuries tend not to heal as well as more common ankle sprains, which is why trainers and coaches are often concerned about their athletes protecting their ankles. An orthopedic doctor will first determine if the injury is stable or unstable. If the injury is stable, then the high ankle sprain can be treated in a cast for a period of six weeks. Unstable injuries may require surgery to stabilize the ankle.

Treatment of High Ankle Sprain:

Most high ankle sprains can be treated in a manner similar to typical ankle sprains. Physical therapy helps by restoring ankle mobility, flexibility, strength, balance, proprioception, and gait. Modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or Kinesio tape may be used to decrease inflammation and swelling and to accelerate the healing of the injury. High ankle sprains are much less common than low ankle sprains. They are also harder to treat and can cause long-term complications.

SPT is just minutes from Andover, Reading, North Andover, and Wilmington MA

Specialized Physical Therapy is conveniently located in North Reading and also proudly serves residents in Andover, Reading, North Andover, Wilmington, Boxford, Burlington, Woburn, Stoneham, and Methuen.  We offer free and spacious parking located within a few steps away from our clinic’s door.


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Specialized Physical Therapy practices a comprehensive approach to total muscle, joint, and spine health. We are the preferred physical therapy clinic in Greater Boston, because we offer an extensive range of physical therapy services designed to restore your physical strength and mobility while reducing your pain. Our physical therapy clinic sets itself apart by:

  • Providing proven techniques for alleviating minor, major, acute, and chronic pain.
  • Specializing in sports medicine, manual therapy, post-surgical care, auto accidents, prenatal and postpartum conditions, orthopedic injuries and overuse injuries.
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  • Focusing on your individual needs, not the bottom line, because we are a small, physical therapist-owned and family-oriented clinic.
  • Treating one patient at a time in our private treatment room to make sure that you get the personalized care and attention you need.
  • Completing your treatment from start to finish with only exceptional doctorate trained and fully licensed Massachusetts physical therapists that have excellent skills, breadth of knowledge, and invaluable experience to help you reach your goals and succeed.


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