Ankle sprains are a pretty common injury. Normally, a sprained ankle heals well and doesn’t cause any long-term problems. Some cases, however, can lead to chronic instability.
Properly treating your sprained ankle is the best way of preventing ankle instability. Dr. Christopher Clark of Premier Spine and Sports Medicine is a sports medicine specialist. Here’s what he recommends to our patients to prevent chronic ankle instability.
What is chronic instability?
Chronic instability is a condition that occurs when the ligaments in your ankle become weak and unstable, so the outer side of your ankle gives way easily.
The most common signs of chronic instability from a sprained ankle include:
- Feeling unsteady or wobbly in the ankle
- Chronic ankle swelling
- Persistent pain and tenderness
Ankle instability can cause your ankle to suddenly give out, which can happen when your walking or even standing still.
Repeated ankle sprains and chronic instability
The two main causes of chronic instability are repeated sprains and sprains that aren’t rehabilitated properly. A sprained ankle happens when you tear the ligaments on the outer side of your ankle joint. These ligaments need time to heal after a sprain occurs, but without proper care or if you use the ankle too much too soon, your ligaments don’t regain full strength and stability. This improper healing can increase your risk of spraining your ankle again because your connective tissue weakens.
The RICE method
You probably remember RICE from grade school. It stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation, and it’s often the first step for treating a sprained ankle.
Resting your ankle for a few days after spraining it prevents further damage. Ice helps with the pain and swelling. Compression involves wrapping your ankle with athletic tape or wrap. This stops you from moving your ankle while offering support while it heals. And lastly, elevation can help reduce swelling.
Once your ankle starts to heal, Dr. Clark examines it to determine if you’re ready for physical therapy. Although a sprained ankle doesn’t always need physical therapy, Dr. Clark often recommends it to help prevent chronic instability. Physical therapy includes a variety of exercises to improve your ankle’s flexibility and strength.
If your sprained ankle doesn’t respond to physical therapy, Dr. Clark might recommend regenerative medicine to help your stretched or torn ankle ligaments to heal.
Get treatment to prevent chronic instability
The key to preventing chronic instability is to ensure that your damaged ligaments heal properly. If you sprain your ankle, come in right away to receive proper treatment, which can lower your risk for future sprains and other injuries.
Use our online booking tool to schedule your appointment with Dr. Clark, or call our office in Hagerstown, Maryland.