There are many ligaments in our body, and all have certain functions whether small or big. One of the ligaments that are present in our ankle is known as the syndesmotic ligament. In this post, we will talk about the injuries that affect this ligament. Our spine also has a few syndesmosis joints but this is not a matter of concern for us here.
Sometimes, injuries occurring to the syndesmotic ligament are also referred to as syndesmosis injuries. These injuries can be mysterious as in certain cases, it becomes difficult to diagnose the condition.
Syndesmotic injuries are hard to ignore as when they occur, pain is evident around the ankle. If ankle sprains or fractures injure the syndesmotic ligament, the condition will become hard to diagnose and take a much longer time for recovery. If the condition becomes severe, surgery will be needed and in that, orthopaedic implants and instruments like screws will be used.
What is Syndesmotic Ligament?
The syndesmosis is a fibrous joint located near the ankle joint and is held together by ligaments. This is why it is known as syndesmotic ligament. Sometimes, it is also called distal tibiofibular syndesmosis as the exact location is between the tibia and the distal fibula. The syndesmotic ligament is made up of many other ligaments namely:
- Transverse tibiofibular ligament
- Posterior inferior tibiofibular ligament
- Interosseous ligament
- Anterior inferior tibiofibular ligament
What Are the Symptoms Associated with Syndesmosis Injuries?
Swelling and bruising are mostly noticed in severe injuries. Besides this, other symptoms may include:
- Pain around the ankle that may reach leg
- Increased pain while walking
- Inability to put weight on the injured ankle
- Difficulty and pain while raising your calf
- Pain while rotating or flexing your foot
What Are the Causes of Syndesmotic Injuries?
Athletes are more likely to get their syndesmotic ligament injured than others. These injuries can be experienced due to sudden twisting of the ankle while playing or a sudden direction change. People can also face such issues due to improper placing of the foot or tripping over a toy while walking. Above all, a direct blow to the outside of the ankle can also injure the ligament.
How is the Condition Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of syndesmotic injuries is not easy, especially when they are accompanied by ankle sprains and fractures. When it comes to the physical examination, it will be painful as the healthcare service provider will manipulate the ankle to notice the range of motion, painful areas, and visible signs like bruising or swelling, if there.
After this, an X-ray examination will also be performed to check if broken bones are there. In doubtful cases, the healthcare service provider will order a CT scan or MRI.
How Are Syndesmotic Injuries Treated?
The treatment of the condition will vary according to the severity. Mild and moderate cases can be managed by RICE.
RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. These steps are tried first to relieve the associated symptoms. If a syndesmosis sprain is there, the recovery time will get doubled when compared to other types of injuries to the ligament. When this treatment method is not sufficient, surgery may be recommended.
Surgery is often suggested for unstable high ankle sprains, and there, orthopedic screws are required to be inserted between the tibia and fibula to relieve pressure on the ligaments by holding both the bones together.