It is estimated that 32,000 people a day suffer a sprained ankle! Obviously this injury occurs most commonly during exercise and sport activities, but during the winter months when snow and ice create slippery conditions an ankle sprain can occur at any time. Unfortunately out of these 32,000 sprains 15%, or just under 5,000 people, develop chronic instability of their ankle. This instability has a negative impact on a person’s ability to complete certain exercises or even compete at their previous level of competition in sports.
The outside of the ankle is composed of three very important ligaments, the anterior talofibular ligament, the calcaneofibular ligament and the posterior talofibular ligament. When an ankle sprain occurs the ligament that is most commonly affected is the anterior talofibular ligament. When this ligament tears an instability of the ankle occurs that leads to prolonged pain and a decreased ability to return to a previous level of exercise or sport activities.
Many approaches have been used, both conservatively and surgically, to stabilize the ankle and to not only provide pain relief but increase the stability of the ankle and provide a faster return to exercise or sport activities. Some of those approaches include rest and ice application, physical therapy and even the dreaded big black boot! Surgical care has involved the simple attempted repair of the ligaments, transferring of tendons to create stability and rigidity of the ankle, and even a myriad of implants to help restabilize the ability of the ankle with weight bearing, exercise and sports.
The primary problem with each of these methods is the lack of long term strength and stability. Not to mention the prolonged recovery time that traditional surgical methods required.
Traditional surgical methods required weeks of casting and non-weight bearing with a slow and often frustrating return to exercise and sports. As medicine progressed, the casting and non-weight bearing times decreased slightly, but still the frustration of watching exercise goals slip away or watching your teammates finish a season without you remained. Until now.
The InternalBrace™ from Arthrex is a revolutionary approach to stabilizing the lateral ankle ligaments that provides faster recovery and more strength than prior to the injury itself. What makes the procedure so successful is the use of a material called FiberTape®. The FiberTape® is inserted via the use of two bone anchors and augments the repair of the ATAFL. Once inserted, the FiberTape® and the repair of the ATAFL have a strength greater than that of the tissue before the injury!
The procedure is typically completed in an outpatient surgery setting and takes about 45 minutes to complete. Patients are typically placed in a splint post-operatively and asked to not bear weight for a short period of time. Patients are typically transitioned to a cam boot quickly and then back to normal shoe gear. This procedure allows for a confident return to exercise and/or sports in a much shorter time frame than previous procedures allowed.
The InternalBrace™ is a game changer. It allows for a stronger construct of tissue from the time it is inserted and lets people get back to what they enjoy. If you or someone you know is currently dealing with a frustrating and aggravating ankle sprain we can help. Please call JCMG Podiatry at 573-556-7724 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Duke or Dr. McAleer.