Ankle ligament reconstruction surgery

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What is ankle ligament reconstruction surgery?

Ankle ligament reconstruction surgery is used to treat lateral ankle instability and sprains. The objective is to prevent the ankle from giving way and stabilising it.

Frequently, this procedure is performed once other non-surgical treatments, including physiotherapy, have proved ineffective.

What does ankle ligament reconstruction surgery involve?

It will usually be done as a day case procedure under a general anaesthetic. Your consultant may conduct an initial arthroscopic examination of the ligament, prior to making a bigger incision close to the ligament. It may be that the existing ligament can be repaired using stitches. Alternatively, the repair may require strengthening using support from other tissues, or a tendon may be used to take the place of torn ligaments.

Why might I need ankle ligament reconstruction surgery?

You might need ankle ligament reconstruction surgery if you are suffering from an ankle sprain or instability.

Symptoms of an ankle sprain include:

  • Bruising, pain and swelling are typical, but it may still be possible to put a certain amount of weight on your foot
  • A feeling that your ankle is ‘catching’ or locking
  • Lack of stability in your ankle causing the ankle to give way frequently
  • Possible ankle dislocation or osteochondral injury (defect in the cartilage at the tip of the bones)

How long does it take to recover?

Before you are discharged from hospital, you will be given crutches and shown how to use them to help you walk. Recovery from ankle ligament surgery requires wearing a cast or splint for a minimum of two weeks, and in this initial period it is crucial to rest your ankle as much as you can. After the two-week mark, you will be given a support boot, although you should continue to refrain from bearing weight on your foot until between four and six weeks post-surgery, depending on your individual case.

Many patients can return to work five to six weeks after their operation, even in cases where their job involves manual work or walking. At this point, you should also be able to resume low impact sporting activities, but should refrain from higher impact exercise until at least ten to twelve weeks post-surgery. You should be able to start driving a manual car, if advised by your consultant, but check with your car insurance company first.

For more details about recovering from ankle ligament reconstruction surgery, read our downloadable patient information leaflet.

What is the long-term impact of ankle ligament reconstruction surgery?

Patients are generally able to walk normally twelve weeks after their surgery, and are also able to resume high impact sports activities.

Many patients are also able to wear heeled shoes, but must be aware that wearing higher heels for long periods can cause damage to the feet.