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Syndesmosis Injury: The High Ankle Sprain

Syndesmosis Injury: The High Ankle Sprain

What Is A Syndesmosis Injury?

Syndesmosis injury, also referred to as a syndesmosis ankle sprain or a high ankle sprain, is a more severe injury than the common lateral ankle sprain. A syndesmosis injury is estimated to occur in around up to 18% of all ankle sprains and typically results in more disability post injury and longer return to play times for athletes than a lateral ankle sprain.

What Is The Tibiofibular Syndesmosis?

The function of the tibiofibular syndesmosis is to maintain the relationship between the tibia and fibula and provides stability to the ankle mortise during weightbearing activities. A syndesmosis ankle sprain refers to the disruption of the bony articulation between the lower aspect of the fibula and tibia (two shin bones). The majority of the stability of this joint is provided by the ligamentous structures of the syndesmosis. There are four different ligaments that comprise the syndesmosis and disruption of some or all of these ligamentous structures that support the articulation occurs in a high ankle sprain.

Ankle Syndesmosis Anatomy

Injuries To The Ankle Syndesmosis

Forced dorsiflexion of the ankle or external rotation of the ankle are the most common mechanisms of injury to the ankle syndesmosis. They are usually seen in the setting of low energy rotational injuries to the ankle joint during athletic activity. It should be noted that bony injuries to the ankle joint and other ligamentous injuries to the ankle often occur in conjunction with ankle syndesmosis injuries. The detection of syndesmosis injuries relies on clinical examination findings as well as radiographic investigations.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic provides this information as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Syndesmosis Injury: The High Ankle Sprain should consult his or her physiotherapist, general practitioner, sports doctor, orthopedic surgeon or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.


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