The procedure of Lateral Ankle Ligament Reconstruction, commonly referred to as ALR, is the process of restoring stability in the ankle, especially if it has not responded to previous treatment. When ligaments are torn or stretched, it causes ankle instability which gives patients the “giving away” feeling or pain in their ankle.
It is recommended to have up to six months of nonsurgical treatment before undergoing a lateral ankle ligament reconstruction surgery, but after a physical examination and a few X-rays, your foot specialist will know what’s right for you.
Lateral Ankle Ligament reconstruction can be performed using either the Brostrom-Gould technique (commonly used for athletes who have experienced multiple years of ankle instability and hyperextension) or Tendon Reconstruction.
Both procedures start with a small incision along the outside of the ankle. The Brostom-Gould technique tightens the ankle ligaments using stitches or anchors placed into the fibula bone. During reconstruction, tendons are used to replace the ligaments by holding the tendon (either from the patients hamstring or from a cadaver) in place with stitches or sometimes a screw in the bone.
After the surgery, the incision is then closed with a dissolving stitch under the skin. A splint is applied until the swelling goes down, and after a few days, a cast is applied for three to four weeks. It will take anywhere from four to six weeks before weight should be placed on the ankle. In some cases, patients will wear a removable walking boot to help with the process.
Once the pain and swelling begins to go down, it is recommended for patients to involve themselves in physical therapy. Over time, straight-line running will be allowed. The total recovery time for a Lateral Ankle Ligament Reconstruction is anywhere between six to twelve months.