Ankle Ligament Reconstruction

The Foot & Ankle Center
at Modern Orthopedics of New Jersey

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72 Route 17 North
Paramus, NJ 07652


2025 Hamburg Turnpike
STE C, Wayne, NJ 07470


3799 US-46
#207, Parsippany, NJ 07054

The ankle joint is vital to your mobility and comfort, and when pain or instability (or both) are present, this can seriously impact your lifestyle and overall quality of life. If you are experiencing ongoing pain and/or instability after an ankle injury or as the result of an underlying health condition, an ankle ligament reconstruction may be a surgical treatment option that could help you regain optimal function.

Below, we’ve provided an overview of ankle ligament injuries as well as of the reconstructive surgical procedure itself. For further information and to book an appointment with one of our world-class surgeons, contact us at Modern Orthopaedics of New Jersey today!

Overview of Ankle Ligament Reconstruction

Ankle Ligament Reconstruction, is typically an outpatient surgery that aims to eliminate pain and restore the natural stability of the ankle joint. When ligaments in the ankle become stretched, lengthened, or torn due to one or more ankle sprains or other underlying conditions, ankle ligament reconstruction surgery can repair, tighten and then reinstitute the integrity and stability of native ankle ligaments.

The Anatomy of the Ankle Ligaments

The human ankle is a complex hinge joint that enables both up-and-down and slight side-to-side movements. Its many bones are held together and stabilized by a variety of different band-like structures known as ligaments.

Several ligaments are present on the laterl (outer) side of the ankle joint, notably the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL) and the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL). The ATFL is the most frequently injured ankle ligament, and ATFL injuries are one of the most common reasons for emergency room visits. The postero talofibular ligament (PTFL) however is the least commonly injured ligament in the outer ankle. 

The syndesmotic ligament or collection of ligaments are responsible for holding together the two leg bones, the tibia and the fibula. Injuries to these structures are what is classically described as a high ankle sprain, commonly seen in sports injuries and accidents. 

The deltoid ligament which is on the inner side of the ankle is an expansive, and usually a very strong collection of ligaments that provide support in what is called the medial ankle. This is a much less commonly injured ligament.  

How To Know I Have an Ankle Ligament Injury

Ankle ligament injuries (sprains) are characterized by symptoms such as:

  • Pain, especially when bearing weight, or inability to do so
  • Swelling and/or bruising
  • Limited range of motion
  • Stiffness in the ankle joint
  • Instability in the ankle joint or the feeling of it about to constantly give

In severe cases where one or more ligaments are torn or ruptured, surgery may be indicated following an isolated (first) sprain injury. Often, however, improper healing after an initial sprain leads to weakened ligaments and subsequent sprains that eventually loosen the ankle ligaments further and cause chronic pain and/or instability in the ankle joint.

Symptoms for Ankle Ligament Reconstruction

When one or more ankle ligaments has/have loosened/stretched (often due to repeated sprains, as described above) or are completely compromised, this can lead to a condition known as chronic ankle instability. Chronic ankle instability is characterized by ongoing pain and instability in the ankle joint.

If you have high arches, ligamentous laxity or certain other foot deformities, you may be prone to chronic ankle instability even without acute ankle injury.

Treatment Options for Ankle Ligament Injury

Upon completing a physical examination to confirm the presence of instability in the ankle joint, your doctor or surgeon may also order diagnostic imaging, such as ankle x rays and MRI to evaluate extent of injury. After a thorough analysis of the results, a surgical or non-surgical treatment plan will be recommended:

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Less severe ankle injuries can often heal effectively with conservative, non-surgical treatment options such as:

  • Aggressive Physical therapy at the right time
  • Bracing
  • Shoe inserts
  • Shoe modifications

Ankle Ligament Reconstruction

An ankle ligament reconstruction may be indicated if ankle ligament injuries are severe (full or major tear or rupture) or if conservative treatment approaches have not been effective in correcting ankle pain and instability.

Ankle Ligament Reconstruction surgery is an outpatient procedure that may be performed under regional or general anesthesia. Depending on the circumstances, ligament(s) may be repaired using one or more of the following techniques:

  • The existing ligament is repaired with stitches.
  • The ligament can be reconstructed using anchors.

A vast majority of patients who undergo a Ankle Ligament Reconstruction experience excellent or good outcomes as a result.


What To Expect During Recovery From Ankle Ligament Reconstruction?

After a Ankle Ligament Reconstruction, patients can expect to be in a splint or a cast for approximately 2-4 weeks and to have to keep weight off of the ankle joint for a total of about 6-12 weeks after surgery. Once this time period has passed, patients will begin physical therapy to strengthen the ankle joint.

When Is Surgery Recommended for Ankle Ligament Injury?

Ankle Ligament Surgery may be recommended if ankle pain and/or instability is severe or ongoing and or limits ability to perform daily activities/play sports/work out, especially when conservative treatment options haven’t been effective.

What Is the Duration of Recovery After Ankle Ligament Reconstruction?

The length of recovery after Ankle Ligament Reconstruction surgery depends on many factors including your age, medical history, overall health, consistency with rehabilitative exercises, and more. In general, the total expected recovery time for most patients is usually between 6-12 months, although can be as quick as 4 months post surgery.

What Are the Potential Complications of Untreated Ankle Injury?

Leaving a ankle injury untreated can lead to complications, including:

  • Repeated ankle sprains
  • Joint damage
  • Bone and tendon injuries
  • Ankle Joint Arthritis
  • Damage to other ligaments/soft tissue 
  • Injury to knee, hip of affected leg or even opposite side due to compensation

Even if you think a sprain isn’t serious and will heal on its own, it’s always best to have it looked at by a doctor who can recommend the right treatment plan to ensure optimal health and function throughout your lifetime.


Consultation With a New Jersey-Based Foot & Ankle Surgeon

Are you experiencing chronic ankle pain and instability? The exceptional team of award-winning surgeons at Modern Orthopaedics of New Jersey can help. Our meticulous approach is tailored to the precise needs of each and every patient and we look forward to helping you regain full comfort and mobility as rapidly as possible.

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Modern Orthopaedics specializes in conditions and treatments of the shoulder, elbow, hand/wrist, hip, knee and foot/ankle with locations in Wayne, Parsippany, and Paramus, NJ.


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