Why does an ATFL tear not require surgery?
Updated: Jan 20, 2022
**The following blog is an extract from JaytheSportsPhysios's instagram page. Reproduced with permission**
A lot of people panic when they read "ruptured" on a scan or a report. A lot of the time, its a cause for concern.
For the ATFL, not so much.
The ATFL is one of three ligaments making up lateral ankle complex, along with the PTFL and CFL. The role of the ATFL is to stop the ankle rolling in when the foot is pointed down. Not only is it the weakest of the three, it is often the first one of them to get injured in any lateral ankle injury.
Check out the video on the left to see how the injury occurs
Looking at the anatomy, you can see that because it so far on the front of the ankle (instead of the outside), it physically wouldn't do much to stop an inversion injury anyway.
Because it contributes so little to lateral ankle instability, a lot of people don't even realize they don't have an ATFL injury. We found a 2017 study on MRI imaging on patients, that found that 37% will have some sort of ATFL abnormality (O'Neil 2017).
Unless there is a chronic instability, or other complications, very rarely would you reconstruct an ATFL.
So how would we rehab an ATFL rupture or tear? Read our blog on the four stages of an ankle rehab here
If you want to start your ankle rehab journey, click here