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Massage Today
May, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 05

Lateral Ankle Sprains

By Ben Benjamin, PhD

Question: What are the two most commonly injured ligaments in the ankle?

Answer: The anterior talofibular ligament and the calcaneofibular ligament.

Lateral Ankle Sprains - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark The anterior talofibular ligament (A) and the calcaneofibular ligament (B). The anterior talofibular ligament attaches the talus to the distal anterior aspect of the lateral malleolus.

It functions to prevent movement in an anterior-to-posterior direction and in an anterior lateral direction. The calcaneofibular ligament runs from the lateral malleolus to the calcaneous and prevents the lateral ankle from buckling directly laterally.

Together, these two important ligaments help hold the lateral ankle together and prevent excessive lateral movement. When these ligaments are loose, the ankle tends to wobble and become unstable. In an ankle sprain, we usually turn the ankle in such a way that the anterior talofibular ligament is injured. Ninety percent of ankle sprains involve this ligament. Many sprains involve both ligaments - the anterior talofibular and the calcaneofibular.

When an ankle is sprained and does not receive the proper treatment, adhesive scar tissue forms in the ligaments. The ankle sprain might become chronic, with the potential of a major sprain occurring again. Over time, the improperly formed scar tissue distends and stretches, making the ankle even more unstable and vulnerable to further injury.


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