Ankle Sprains, Ankle Instability, and Syndesmosis Injuries

Thomas O. Clanton, Jess Mullens, Jonathan Backus, Norman Waldrop, Ana Robinson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries that occur in sports. They range from mild to severe and often include injury to other structures in addition to the ligaments. When the injuries are more severe or treated inadequately, chronic problems can develop ranging from pain to instability to post-traumatic arthritis. The most common sprain to the ankle involves the lateral ligaments, with medial and syndesmosis sprains occurring less frequently. Acute lateral sprains are typically managed nonoperatively with functional treatment, but certain conditions require early surgical intervention. When there is obvious pain and instability, temporary immobilization is warranted, and if persistent, it may indicate a need for more investigation and potentially surgical intervention. Medial sprains to the deltoid ligament can be difficult to elicit instability, and by nature often present in a chronic form that may involve other structures. Syndesmosis injuries are being recognized with increasing frequency and usually result in more lost playing time than other sprains of the ankle. Stabilization of the syndesmosis is not without controversy, particularly when it comes to the best method of evaluation and surgical treatment. Regardless of the specific type of ankle sprain, when there is persistent debilitating instability, surgical correction is essential, followed by a well-designed rehabilitation program. Ultimately, ankle sprains are ubiquitous in sports, and the skillful physician will evaluate the injury carefully and institute the treatment plan that will foster the best recovery and return to play for the athlete, regardless of their level of participation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBaxter’s The Foot And Ankle In Sport
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780323549424
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Acute sprain
  • Ankle rehabilitation
  • Ankle sprain
  • Chronic sprain
  • Deltoid sprain
  • high ankle sprain
  • nonoperative treatment
  • operative treatment
  • syndesmosis sprain


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