Ankle ligament reconstruction is a type of surgical procedure that treats and fixes ankle sprains and torn ligaments in the joint. The main objective of this surgery is to stabilise the ankle so that it does not give way easily.
While minor to moderate ankle sprains can often heal on their own and do not require surgical intervention, severe sprains may require angle ligament reconstruction when they cannot be treated with other methods such as physiotherapy.
Ankle sprains occur when your ankle is rolled, twisted, or turned in an awkward way that goes against the natural motion of the joint. When this happens, the ligaments can become overstretched or tear. As ligaments keep your ankle bones together, mobility and flexibility of the ankle can become disrupted when they tear or become damaged, while causing pain and stiffness.
Ankle ligament reconstruction can alleviate symptoms and treat issues associated with ankle sprains such as instability, bruising, pain, swelling, a ‘locking’ feeling in the ankle, and dislocation. Ankle sprains are often caused by falls, landing awkwardly on the foot, impact during sports, or walking on uneven surfaces.
How does ankle ligament reconstruction work?
Ankle ligament reconstruction involves repairing the ligaments and stabilising the ankle joint. Depending on the individual and the complexity of the case, it may be conducted via arthroscopy, where the orthopaedic surgeon makes a small incision and inserts an arthroscope to examine and fix the ligaments.
If the damage is more severe, reconstruction may be done under open surgery. Stitches may be used to repair the ligaments, or the surgery may involve other tissues or tendons to replace torn ligaments.
This procedure is normally conducted under general anaesthesia and may take up to 2 hours, depending on the severity of the ankle sprain and how much reconstruction is needed to repair the ligaments.
Benefits of ankle ligament reconstruction
Fixes torn or damaged ligaments in the ankle
Stabilises the joint to prevent future sprains
Improves flexibility and strength in the ankle
Relieves pain, stiffness, and discomfort
What conditions does ankle ligament reconstruction treat?
Ankle ligament reconstruction can be used to treat the following conditions:
Torn or damaged ligaments
What results can I expect?
After the surgery, you may be required to use crutches to avoid putting pressure on the joint. You will need to wear a cast or splint for at least 2 weeks. You will be advised to rest and elevate your ankle as much as possible, while taking painkillers. You may also be required to wear a support boot after the first couple of weeks.
You should start to feel better and walk properly approximately 6 weeks after the surgery, but this depends on the severity of your injury, age, medical history, and healing progress. After 6 weeks, you may be able to resume daily activities including low-impact sports and exercise. It can take up to 10-12 weeks to reach full recovery and be able to put more pressure on your ankle, allowing you to participate in high-impact exercises such as running or skipping.
You may also be required to undergo physiotherapy to regain mobility and flexibility in your ankle, and attend follow-up appointments with your orthopaedist to monitor your progress and recovery.
Results will vary from person to person, depending on the treatment area, severity of the issue, and your overall health. Your orthopaedist can give you a better idea of what to expect based on your individual needs and circumstances.
How many treatment sessions are needed?
Only 1 ankle ligament reconstruction surgery is typically needed at a time. However, you may need to attend multiple physiotherapy sessions. The exact duration of physiotherapy depends on the severity of your ankle sprain, and will be advised by your orthopaedist accordingly.
Your orthopaedic surgeon will be able to provide you with a bespoke treatment plan, tailored to your needs and requirements.
Dr Puah KL is our Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Artisan Sports & Orthopaedic Surgery. He used to serve the sports service of Singapore General Hospital - the highest volume trauma centre for orthopaedics in Singapore.