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Athletic Training

Ligament tear after ankle fracture



In May, my 21-year-old daughter had surgery for an ankle fracture (actually three fractures)following a tennis accident. She has a plate and six screws in her ankle. This has been a long recovery and just as she was starting to truly feel better, she stood up one day, took a few steps and heard something snap. She could still walk, but was in so much pain that she was in tears and could hardly catch her breath. ER doc in university town said that scar tissue had shifted and pulled away a chunk of ligament. Expected her to be better in a week.

That was five days ago. She has been back on crutches all that time and is in extreme pain still. She says the bones feel like they are not staying tightly in place. 1--Is it concerning that she is having sharp pain still? 2--What else could have happened here? 3--She is very depressed over the idea that things like this are going to continually happen. How can she strengthen the muscles, ligaments and tendons? (She had a little success on a recumbent bike--said it felt good to get the range of motion--but soon that resulted in great pain as well.


It's unfortunate that your daughter had a setback in her recovery. My suggestion would be to follow up with the physician who performed the surgery to determine whether more tests are needed to assess her reinjury.

That she continues to have significant pain warrants this follow up to determine whether any additional damage occurred and what should be the follow-up course of action from a treatment perspective. The first course of business should be the re-evaluation and then you can determine where you should go from there.

I would recommend she continue with her crutches as long as she is having pain. If she is unable to return home for a follow-up visit, I would recommend a visit to a local orthopedic surgeon.

Good luck!

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Response by:

Janine   Oman, MS, PT/ATC Janine Oman, MS, PT/ATC
Assistant Athletic Director
Instructor at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University