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Frozen Ankle Mobility Gained with Front to Back Arthroscopic Surgery

You've probably heard of a frozen shoulder but what about a frozen ankle? Loss of motion and painful stiffness can affect the ankle just the same as the shoulder. Most often the patient has had a previous ankle injury.

In this report, surgeons present five cases of post-traumatic frozen ankle. All were treated with arthroscopic surgery approached from the front and the back of the ankle. The surgeon cut away part of the capsule and removed scar tissue and fibrous bands from around the ankle. If ankle motion was still limited, several of the ankle ligaments were also cut.

Full weight-bearing and mobilization exercises were started the next day. A splint to hold the ankle in dorsiflexion (toes pulled up toward the face) was worn at night. Gain in motion ranged from one to 19 degrees and was maintained for at least two years (follow-up period).

The authors conclude arthroscopic surgery works well for post-traumatic ankle stiffness. Without large incisions and only a few puncture holes, there's very little wound pain. A combined anterior and posterior method is needed. Routine ankle arthroscopy doesn't allow the surgeon to remove adhesions and scar tissue throughout the ankle.

Tun Hing Lui, MBBS (HK), FRCS, et al. The Arthroscopic Management of Frozen Ankle. In The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery. March 2006. Vol. 22. No. 3. Pp. 283-286.

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