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Arthroscopy of the Ankle

Ankle arthroscopy (also known as keyhole surgery of the ankle) is a minimally invasive ankle operation that is performed by an orthopaedic surgeon to internally investigate, diagnose and treat a variety of ankle conditions. Two or three ‘keyholes’ or ‘portholes’ are made in the ankle through which the surgeon passes his surgical instruments. During the arthroscopy the surgeon will have a clear view of the inside of your ankle joint and will be able assess the structures within the ankle for damage. If damage to structures is seen it will normally be repaired.

Soft tissue friction massage of the ankle ligamentsAbove: Soft tissue friction massage of the ankle ligaments

Ankle arthroscopies are performed for a variety of conditions and individuals. Common procedures undertaken via arthroscopy include:
  • Arthritis of the ankle
  • Loose bodies within the ankle
  • Anterior ankle impingement (footballers ankle)
  • Instability of the ankle
  • Lateral ligament reconstruction
  • Undiagnosed ankle pain
An ankle arthroscopy can be performed with either a general or a local anaesthetic. Your ankle is filledwith fluid throughout the procedure to allow a clear view of the joint and to wash away any debris from within the joint. If any damage is present, it will normally be corrected with small tools guided by the camera. Arthroscopic ankle surgery allows the treatment of the above conditions without the need for open ankle surgery (a large incision). The use of keyhole reduces the risk of infection and accelerates post-operative rehabilitation.

Mobilisations and stretches applied to the connective tissues in the ankleAbove: Mobilisations and stretches applied to the connective tissues in the ankle

Physiotherapy prior to an ankle arthroscopy

Prior to your surgery your physiotherapist at can prescribe a rehabilitation programme to control your symptoms and improve muscle strength and improve your biomechanics. By doing this your post-surgical rehab will be assisted and time frames and outcome may be improved following surgery. Exercises will be aimed towards balance and proprioception. Treatment will include:
  • Balance and proprioception exercises
  • Muscle strengthening exercises
  • Range of movement exercises
  • Taping
  • Pain management
  • Cryotherapy (ice)
  • Advice regarding post-surgical management

Passive stretch of connective soft tissues in the ankleAbove: Passive stretch of connective soft tissues in the ankle

Symptoms following an ankle arthroscopy

Following arthroscopic ankle surgery it is normal for you to experience some or all of the symptoms below. The severity of post-operative symptoms is often directly related to the extent and type of surgery performed. Common symptoms include:
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Numbness (usually self-resolving after the anaesthesia wears off)
  • Stiffness

Physiotherapy following ankle arthroscopy

Following your ankle arthroscopy will perform a thorough assessment of your ankle and devise a personal rehabilitation programme to suit you individual needs. This rehab programme will focus on managing acute symptoms following your surgery such as; reducing pain, increasing range of movement, increasing weight bearing and improving balance to allow you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Treatment may include;
  • Advice and education
  • Pain management (cryotherapy / electrotherapy)
  • Active stretching and range of movement exercises
  • Joint mobilisations
  • Ankle strengthening exercises
  • Balance and proprioceptive ankle exercises
  • Soft tissue release
  • Scar management
  • Functional activities and exercises
  • Sports specific exercises


Ankle arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery performed to help examine, diagnose and treat a variety ofankle problems. It can be performed by itself or in conjunction with a form of repair or reconstruction. Physiotherapy is essential in the complete rehabilitation following an ankle arthroscopy to help reduce pain and restore movement and function. will provide a comprehensive and specific treatment programme to ensure the full recovery of movement, strength and functional use in your ankle and affected leg. Call now on 0330 088 7800 for more information or to book an appointment.

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