A high ankle sprain, also knowns as a syndesmotic ankle sprain (SAS) is somewhat different than what most people consider a “normal” sprained ankle. A high ankle sprain occurs ABOVE the ankle joint, when the lower leg and foot twist outward (external rotation). Only about 15% of all sprained ankles are considered high ankle sprains.
You can expect pain above the ankle, on the outside and front area of the lower leg and you should feel sharp pain if you twist outwardly (externally). One of the odd things about high ankle sprains is that the swelling is usually very minor. With a typical lateral ankle sprain, you will see A LOT of swelling, so be aware of that…
As always, we recommend getting an x-ray to rule out a fracture, because if you do have one, it is important to immobilize your ankle as soon as possible. If you do not have a fracture, but you are concerned about the injury, get an ultrasound or even an MRI to get more detailed imagery.
Should you Ice a High Ankle Sprain?
If you are looking to treat a high ankle sprain at home, we do NOT recommend R.I.C.E. (rest, ice compression, elevation). Even though it is a very common form of treatment, recent research confirms that rest and ice prolongs the injury and does NOT help the healing process. There are a lot of reasons for this and have a great article which gets into all the details… For more on that, please read our article: DO NOT USE ICE
Instead of rest and ice, we strongly recommend a natural, safe and effective rehab program to heal a high ankle sprain. It is the best treatment possible to heal your lower leg fully and quickly and research backs that up! You need to strengthen the ankle, stabilize it and heal all the damage from the injury. That requires a proactive approach, which includes effective rehabilitation techniques that have been proven to eliminate pain quickly and completely heal the injury.
On Wikipedia, the gold standard for objective information, you will see that H.E.M. Ankle Rehab (our at home ankle rehab program) is included as a treatment option for high ankle sprains…
“An alternative measure consists of H.E.M. (Healthy blood flow, Eliminate swelling and Mobility). This treatment suggests increasing healthy blood flow to the ankle, including immune cells required for healing. The treatment also suggests improving healthy range of motion, stability and strength in the ankle to aid in a full recovery. Recent research suggests that macrophages (immune cells responsible for muscle repair and growth) are necessary for muscle to grow back to its pre-injured state.
Remember, if you rely on rest and ice and try to wait for the ankle to heal itself, you will be setting yourself up for a long road to recovery and HIGH risk of re-injury. The foot, ankle and calf sustain a lot of damage which weakens the area and makes it inflexible and unstable. So, the key is to properly rehabilitate the whole lower leg to improve strength, stability and healthy range of motion.
As Wikipedia states:
Rehabilitation is important. A significant percentage of these sprains also involve medial and/or lateral ankle ligament injury and slow recovery and continuing symptoms are common.
So, don’t wait… get started on a good rehab program as soon as possible to fully recover from a high ankle sprain. If you would like to learn more about our at home ankle rehab system, please click: HEM ANKLE REHAB