How to Prevent Chronic Instability After a Sprained Ankle

To many people, sprained ankles are nothing to write to your doctor about. They’re the most common musculoskeletal injury, making up 30% of the injuries seen by sports medicine clinics. However, this statistic only accounts for the number of ankle sprains reported. Many people never find treatment for their sprains, which can lead to chronic instability in their ankle.

Wiregrass Podiatry provides foot and ankle care to the entire Enterprise, Alabama area. Dr. Jennifer Decker and Dr. Lincoln V. Lowe have experience dealing with all kinds of sports injuries, including ankle sprains. They can provide the treatment you need and get you walking again.

What are the different types of ankle sprains?

There are three types of ankle sprains: medial, lateral, and syndesmotic. A lateral ankle sprain is the most common type. With this type of sprain, your foot rolls inward which injures the ligaments on the outside of your ankle. Those ligaments are the anterior talofibular, calcaneofibular, and posterior talofibular.

Medial ankle sprains occur when the foot rolls outward, damaging the deltoid ligaments on the inside of the ankle. And finally, syndesmotic sprains damage the ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula.

The symptoms are the same for all these sprains: pain and swelling. It can be difficult to know exactly what kind of injury you have until you’ve been examined by a doctor.

What is chronic instability?

Chronic ankle instability is exactly what it sounds like: instability of the ankle joint. This means you’re prone to re-spraining your ankle, even if you’re not playing sports. It could happen while you’re dancing, walking, or even just standing. Walking across uneven surfaces, such as a gravel parking lot or a hiking trail, is especially likely to cause a sprain.

Chronic ankle instability occurs in around 20% of acute ankle sprains. This condition also causes persistent swelling, pain, tenderness, and discomfort, along with a general feeling of instability and unbalance.

How can you avoid chronic instability?

There are three ways to categorize sprained ankles: grade 1, grade 2, and grade 3. Grade 1 is considered mild and grade 3 is severe. A severe sprain is far more likely to result in chronic instability, but even repeated grade 1 sprains can lead to a chronic condition.

The best way to avoid chronic instability is to immediately seek treatment for a sprained ankle, and take precautions as you do so.

As soon as you sprain your ankle, you should avoid worsening the damage to your ligaments. One way to do that is by applying the RICE method: rest your ankle, apply ice, compress with a medical bandage, and make sure to elevate your leg.

Next, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor experienced in sports medicine. If the sprain is severe, you should try and seek immediate treatment. If you end up going to the emergency room, make sure to follow-up with a specialist to get more individualized care. Your doctor will evaluate the injury and discuss the healing process with you.

Following your doctor’s advice after an ankle injury can lower your chances of developing an instability after the sprain. Your path to healing might involve ankle exercises, ankle wraps or braces, and regular follow-up visits.

If you’ve recently suffered an ankle injury, don’t hesitate to seek medical care. You can contact Wiregrass Podiatry by calling 334-494-8200 or booking an appointment online.

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