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Causes Of Foot And Ankle Ligament Tears

The lower leg, foot, and ankle have a complex infrastructure of ligaments that connect the heel, calf, ankle, and shin bones. These ligaments – particularly the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL) – are responsible for enabling movements like running and walking, and they play a crucial role in keeping your ankle stable and safe from injuries. 

However, due to trauma or improper foot and ankle movements, these ligaments can stretch in the wrong direction or beyond capacity, which can cause them to tear. Here are some of the main culprits behind ankle and foot ligament injuries:

Traumatic Injury From Falls Or Collisions

Falling, or almost falling, can cause your ankle to twist and your ligaments to stretch in the wrong direction, which can lead to tears and injuries. Damage might also be caused by another person or object falling on your foot.

Landing Incorrectly On Your Foot 

ankle ligament tear diagram


Some movements can cause a ligament tear, including landing incorrectly on your foot after jumping or pivoting, or simply taking an awkward step when walking down the stairs. 

This is because forcing your ankle in an unnatural position or misaligned foot mechanics can overstretch your ligaments or pull them in the wrong direction. In turn, this can cause tears and, in severe cases, ruptures, which occur when the ligaments become detached from the bone or tear completely.

Walking Or Running On Uneven Surfaces

If you often exercise outdoors or engage in outdoor activities, such as trail running, you might be at a greater risk of an ankle sprain due to the uneven surfaces. Ligament injuries are also more likely in sports such as soccer, basketball, and tennis, which require rapid changes in direction, often while running.

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Symptoms Of Foot And Ankle Ligament Tears

For many, a sprained ankle is nothing more than a minor issue bound to disappear in a matter of days. However, around 70% of cases of acute ankle sprains can lead to severe conditions such as chronic ankle instability (CAI), pain, and reduced motion range. 

Depending on whether you have experienced an inversion (the ankle rolls inwards), eversion (the ankle rolls outward), or high ankle sprain (tearing of the ligaments that connect the ankle to the shin bones), you might experience a variety of symptoms in the affected area. 

The intensity of symptoms might also depend on whether you have minimal stretching of the ligament, a partial or severe tear, or a completely torn ligament.


Traumatic ankle sprains are often accompanied by a popping or snapping sound, and they are characterized by pain (mostly around the ankle and lower leg areas). In the case of mild ligament tears, you might be able to ease the discomfort through at-home therapies like R.I.C.E. However, a severe ligament tear is accompanied by pain that does not improver within 24-72 hours.  


Swelling is one of the most common symptoms associated with ligament tears. Swelling is caused by an excessive accumulation of fluids and white cells in the damaged area, a process which is part of the human body’s healing response to injuries. 

Ankle Weakness 

Moderate to severe sprains might have longer-lasting effects, which include a sensation of instability in the ankle. This is because overstretched ligaments are no longer able to keep bones and other components of the ankle during movements, which might result in chronic instability and a feeling of “looseness” in the ankle. 

Having Trouble Walking

Torn or ruptured ligaments are characterized by pain and swelling, which in turn, can cause stiffness in the ankle (due to the excessive fluids in the area) and limit your ability to move your ankle freely. This, coupled with the discomfort that you might feel due to a torn ligament, can make it difficult to bear weight on the foot when walking.

Treatment Options For Foot And Ankle Ligament Tears

Despite how common and varied ankle ligament injuries are, the two most common medications prescribed during emergency department visits are NSAIDs (56.1%) and opioid analgesics (28.4%).

Although these therapies seem to be the go-to short-term solution for ankle sprains, they don’t treat the underlying issue and come with a wide range of side effects. These include drowsiness, allergic reactions, stomach ulcers, digestive issues, sedation, and, in some cases, substance use disorders (SUD). 

In severe cases, healthcare providers might also recommend patients suffering with chronic ankle pain and instability to undergo ankle ligament reconstruction surgery. These surgeries are recommended when other treatments are failed, and come with months of rehabilitation and physical therapy. 

However, pharmaceutical therapies and invasive ankle ligament reconstruction surgeries are no longer the only options available. 

Regenerative orthopedic treatments such as high-dose BMA and PRP can be combined to create a non-surgical alternative that offer long-lasting results by supporting the body’s regeneration of damaged tissue. Let’s look at how they work below.  

Super-Concentrated PRP for Ankle and Foot Ligament Tears

Orthagenex’s PRP procedures involve a refined methodology of creating super-concentrated platelet-rich plasma that is far superior to standard PRP solutions. The extraction and concentration process of platelets, performed under strict protocols, is designed to ensure a higher concentration of growth factors — 10 – 40x over baseline value. This super-concentrated PRP approach aims to optimize patient outcomes by stimulating the body’s natural healing processes. These protocols bring together advanced imaging guidance, meticulous sterile techniques, and the precise application of super-concentrated PRP to optimize the therapeutic benefits of the treatment.

Through this, Orthagenex has been able to offer treatments that not only tackle a wide array of orthopedic conditions with PRP alone, including foot and ankle tendon and ligament tears. This is particularly beneficial for patients seeking non-invasive treatments for joint and soft tissue injuries and conditions.


Get Back On Your Feet With Stem Cell Therapy

If you are dealing with acute ankle or foot pain due to a torn ligament, you might begin to think that opioid analgesics and surgery are the only options left. Luckily, today’s innovations in regenerative orthopedics are providing patients with a new, non-invasive, and non-surgical alternative. 

Take the first step towards improving your foot health by getting in touch with our team and discovering a personalized treatment program. Get started today.

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