Ankle Tendon & Ligament Injury



Ankle Tendon & Ligament Injury

Ankle tendon and ligament injuries can impact anyone of all ages and activity levels. The structures supporting your ankle can often become inflamed or tear, which can lead to pain. Whether you are an active athlete, or simply someone who likes to hike every so often, there are many ways that you can sustain this kind of injury.

Ankle Tendon & Ligament Injury

What Are Ankle Tendon and Ligament Tears?

Ankle tendons help connect the muscles in this area to the bone, helping you move freely. Ligaments connect the bones together to help provide structure and stop the joints from moving too much. When an ankle is under stress – either due to an accident or simply repetitive movements, the tendons and ligaments can become strained. If they are stretched too far, they can tear.

Ankle Tendon & Ligament Injury

What Causes Tendon and Ligament Tears?

There are some different causes of tendon and ligament tears such as:

A sudden accident or fall can put a strain on the ankle, stretching or tearing the tendons and ligaments in the ankle. This is common in those who play a lot of sports.

Prolonged walking, running or standing and gradually wear down the tendons and ligaments in the ankle. When they are worn, they are more prone to injury and inflammation. This is especially common in physical occupations.

Wearing shoes that do not support the foot can lead to the foot being unstable and increasing stress on the tendons and ligaments. This is especially common for those who wear high heels where the ankle is more unstable.

Many people have naturally high arches or flat feet, and this can naturally lead to instability over the years. The chances of these individuals having tendon and ligament problems are much higher.

Types Of Ankle Tendon And Ligament Tears And Ruptures

There are several different types of injuries that fall under this term. Each of these injuries has different features and treatment options. Some of the most common injuries include:

Ankle Sprain

A sprained ankle is where the ligaments around the ankle become strained or torn, usually due to it being twisted. Sprained ankles can be minor (Grade I) or severe (Grade III) and are based on the level of damage to the ligament. It can cause pain and swelling, and if the ligament is torn, it can lead to instability and trouble walking.

Peroneal Tendonitis

The peroneal tendons are located on the outside of the ankle and are most used when bearing weight on the ankle. These tendons can become inflamed or aggravated over time due to stress or repetitive activity. This can lead to tenderness, pain and swelling on the outside of the ankle.

Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

The Posterior Tibial tendon helps align the ankle and support the foot arch. It can become overworked and swollen, leading to pain and discomfort. In this case, the pain and swelling are most likely located on the inside of the ankle or arch of the foot. This can severely limit walking due to pain.
Ankle Tendon & Ligament Injury

Symptoms Of Ankle Tendon And Ligament Injury

There are many symptoms someone can experience with ankle tendon and ligament injuries. They can vary with the type of injury and how severe it is. They can include:

Ankle Tendon & Ligament Injury

How Are Ankle Tendon And Ligament Injuries Diagnosed?

Diagnosing several different ankle ligament and tendon injuries can happen through a combination of imaging and specialist tests. This will help doctors understand the extent of the damage so they can prescribe the best treatment plan.


X-rays can be used to help rule out any breaks or fractures of the ankle. They can also rule out dislocations and help assess how the joint is aligned. After this, you will need a scan to look at the soft tissue such as an MRI.

MRI Scan

MRI scans use magnets and radios to help show cross-sections of the tissues within the ankle. They can help identify injuries to tendons and ligaments as well as muscle or soft tissue damage.

Stress Test

There are a number of stress tests, such as the anterior drawer test or talar tilt test, which can be used to look at how stable the ankle joint is. These tests apply force to the ankle in many directions to help show where weaknesses are and where there is limited movement.

Ankle Tendon & Ligament Injury

How Are Ankle Tendon And Ligament Injuries Treated?

The exact treatment for your ankle injury will be tailored to your specific symptoms and how severe the injury is. It will also depend on your activity level, overall health and limitations. Treatment options can include both non-surgical management and surgical options.


RICE Therapy – One of the first strategies to manage your injury is RICE therapy. This is where you Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate the injury. The goal of this is to help reduce inflammation and begin the early stages of healing.

Immobilisation - To protect the injured area, supporting it with a brace or splint might be necessary. This helps reduce the impact on the area while it begins to heal.

Physical Therapy – Physical therapy is vital in helping rehabilitate the area. Through exercises, you can help restore the strength and flexibility of the joint after injury.

NSAIDs - There are a number of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs that can help with the pain and inflammation of ankle injuries.


Tendon or Ligament Repair or Reconstruction – If the injury is severe, or completely torn, it may require surgery to help restore normal structure. This involves simply re-attaching the tendon or grafting extra tissue to reinforce the area.

Joint Arthroscopy – This is a minimally invasive procedure that helps both diagnose and treat the issue. A small camera is placed through a small incision to help visualise the joint better. You can also receive keyhole surgery on the tendon or ligament through this technique.

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