Some 2 million ankle sprains happen each year in the United States, making stretched or torn ligaments quite common. Along with pain, tenderness, and swelling, ankle instability is one of the main symptoms. And if it lingers, ankle instability can put many aspects of your life on hold.
Chronic ankle instability can make it difficult to trust the joint and put you at risk of additional injuries. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prevent that “giving way” wobbliness that can follow a severe ankle sprain.
Board-certified orthopedic sports medicine surgeon Dr. Stephen Fisher and the team at our offices in Cumming and Buford, Georgia, diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate orthopedic ankle conditions.
We can also help lower your risk of sprain-related complications, through effective care and guidance. Let’s delve into chronic joint instability after an ankle sprain, including ways to avoid it.
Chronic ankle instability basics
Chronic joint instability in the ankle usually occurs after repeated ankle sprains or an especially severe one. It can also derive from ankle overuse due to playing a sport, such as soccer.
The unstable sensation, which affects the outer side of the ankle, makes it difficult to keep your balance and raises your risk of falls. Other signs of chronic ankle instability include:
- Repeatedly turning your ankle, especially during sports or on uneven ground
- Persistent discomfort, pain, or swelling
- A generally wobbly or unstable feeling
These symptoms are especially likely when you have a sprained ankle that hasn’t fully or adequately healed. This scenario can also lead to more sprains, which further increases your risk of chronic instability.
How to prevent chronic ankle instability after a sprain
The best way to stave off long-term instability after a severe ankle sprain is to follow your rehabilitation care plan. Our team at Stephen Fisher, MD provides treatment and advises you on at-home measures.
Depending on the specifics of your injury, we may suggest:
- Compression with an elastic bandage
- Sufficient rest and avoiding certain activities
- Use of a walking boot or crutches
- Icing and elevating your ankle
- Pain-relieving or anti-inflammatory medication
- Physical therapy
- Special exercises
If your injury is severe or the affected ligament won’t heal even with appropriate measures, we may recommend joint preservation surgery using minimally invasive techniques including arthroscopy and ligament reconstruction. Approved rehab exercises are initiated immediately after surgery.
Even once you start to feel better — after your sprain or surgery — wait for our go-ahead before engaging in activities that stress your ankle. Attempting to rush your recovery can easily lead to chronic instability.
Preventing additional sprains and instability moving forward
Once your ankle has fully healed, additional measures can help prevent future sprains and instability. Wear shoes that provide support, for example, and be sure to stretch your ankles and warm up sufficiently before intense exercise.
Practicing mindfulness while you’re walking or jogging can also help. Especially while moving over uneven ground, focus on your movements — versus, say, your phone.
To learn more about ankle sprain complications or preventive care, call the office nearest you or book an appointment through our website today.
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