When this ligament is torn (usually as a result of a sprain), the ankle can slide forwards. Tears in this ligament are usually caused by a severe sprain, when the ankle is violently twisted.
There are three main lateral ligaments in the ankle. The ATFL (anterior talofibular ligament) attaches the front of the shinbone (tibia) to the front part of the heelbone (talus) - on the top of the ankle. It this ligament becomes torn, the shinbone is likely to slide forward on the talus, causing instability. Tears in this ligament are usually caused by a severe sprain, when the ankle is violently twisted.
Pain and inflammation in the front of the ankle. A sensation of the ankle sliding forward, especially when coming to a stop when walking or running.
The surgeon will perform a ‘draw test’, which involves pulling the foot forward, while holding the lower leg still. If the foot is very unstable when this is done, the ATFL is likely to be torn. And MRI scan will help to ascertain the extent of the damage to the ligament.
During arthroscopic surgery, the torn ATFL is repaired by stitching it back on itself to restore it to its normal strength and thickness. This is known as the modified Brostrom technique.
You will be able to put weight on the foot almost immediately. You will be given a splint (aircast boot) to wear for three weeks, during which time you will be having physiotherapy twice a week. You should expect full recovery about six weeks after your surgery.
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