Chronic ankle instability is common among athletes.
When you’re experiencing pain in your ankle and find that walking can be unstable, it’s possible that the reason for these issues could be a condition known as chronic ankle instability.
This is a serious foot condition that can occur among individuals who have recently suffered from an ankle sprain. If you believe that you’re affected by this condition, you should learn more about what chronic ankle instability is and how the problem can be effectively treated.
What Is Chronic Ankle Instability?
This is a condition wherein the outer portion of the ankle gives out on a repeated basis, which can cause you to lose your balance whenever it occurs. In most cases, this type of injury only develops when the affected individual has previously suffered from multiple ankle sprains. The issue of the ankle giving out almost always happens when you’re walking or exercising. However, even standing can bring about this issue.
There are a variety of symptoms that occur with this injury, the primary of which is that your ankle will turn awkwardly when playing sports or walking on uneven surfaces. When you’ve developed chronic ankle instability, tenderness and pain are common symptoms that tend to worsen in moments when your ankle gives out. The discomfort that you experience in your ankle will be chronic, which means that it’s always there at some level. While the pain can reduce in severity, it’s persistent. Your ankle will also feel unstable when walking or running. All of these symptoms are relatively easy to diagnose by simply comparing how each foot feels.
Primary Causes for Chronic Ankle Instability
A chronic case of ankle instability usually occurs when a previous ankle sprain has had difficulties healing properly. Spraining an ankle causes tearing problems with the ligaments within your ankle. When this occurs, your ability to properly balance is adversely affected. The ankle needs to be rehabilitated correctly in order to minimize the chances of developing this condition, which means that the muscles and tissues around the injury must be strengthened and retrained. Not doing so heightens your risk of suffering from additional sprains. When multiple sprains occur, it’s possible that you could begin to suffer from chronic ankle disability because of the continued weakening of your ligaments.
How This Condition Is Diagnosed
When you schedule a visit with your doctor about the possibility of chronic ankle disability, the main aspect of the diagnosis will focus on your medical history. Since previous sprains are the primary cause for chronic ankle disability, your medical history will be key towards helping the doctor determine if you’re affected by this condition. Your ankle will also be thoroughly examined to check for signs of tender spots, instability, and general swelling in the area. If a diagnosis can’t be made at this time, additional x-rays and imaging tests will be administered to better evaluate the condition of your ankle.
Available Treatment Options
Although this is a chronic condition that can’t be fully healed with treatments, there are a range of treatment options that can assist in heavily reducing the symptoms that you’re experiencing while also strengthening your ankle to safeguard against future issues. The full results of your diagnosis determine what kinds of treatment will be recommended. These treatments can either be surgical or non-surgical, the former of which is used only in the most severe of situations.
The first treatment option for you to consider is physical therapy, which is aimed at strengthening your ankle and improving your overall range of motion in the area. The exercises and stretches that you perform will become progressively more difficult throughout physical therapy as your ankle strengthens, which helps to test your limits and bolster the effects of the treatment.
You might also be prescribed with some medications to help with the pain and swelling that goes along with chronic ankle instability. These medications typically include standard pain relievers as well as anti-inflammatory medications. It’s possible that a brace will be recommended to you in order to increase support and stability for your ankle.
As for surgery, this treatment is mainly needed if the degree of instability in your ankle is severe and the other treatments have yet to work properly. Surgeries for this condition typically center around the reconstruction or repair of the ligaments that have been damaged.