If you’re struggling with a sprained ankle and chronic instability as a result, you aren’t alone. In fact, about 2 million Americans suffer an ankle sprain each year.
Even though sprains aren’t as serious as fractures, they can reoccur, causing pain, swelling, and tenderness.
Below, we asked our experts at MidJersey Orthopaedics to explain how an ankle sprain can cause chronic instability and what treatments are available to prevent ankle sprains complications.
How ankles get sprained
An ankle sprain occurs when you overextend one or more of your ankle’s ligaments. There are three types of ankle sprains: medial, lateral, and syndesmotic.
A medial ankle sprain happens when the ankle rolls outward, damaging the ligaments inside the ankle.
A lateral sprain, which is by far the most common, occurs when the ankle rolls inward, injuring the ligaments outside the ankle. And finally, a syndesmotic sprain, or a high ankle sprain, involves injuries to the ligaments that link the tibia and fibula.
You increase your risk for ankle sprains if you don’t warm up before playing a sport or if you wear ill-fitting shoes for the sport you’re participating in. Other risk factors include muscle overuse, being in poor physical condition, and being overweight or obese.
How do ankles develop chronic instability?
Ankle instability usually develops as a consequence of failing to seek treatment for an ankle sprain. It can lead to sprains that occur even when not engaged in high-risk activities.
People who have ankle sprains are more likely to continue spraining their ankles even if their muscles and tendons were in a good condition prior to the sprain.
For mild sprains, a medical professional may recommend RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevate). However, if your sprain is more severe and the ligaments are torn, you may need to wear a cast to immobilize the ankle for a couple of weeks.
There’s only one way to find out how severe your ankle sprain is: Reach out to experts. Contact us to schedule an appointment so one of our specialists can examine your ankle, determine the extent of the damage to your ankle, and put together a treatment plan to prevent chronic instability.
During the consult, one of our specialists will examine your range your motion, touch the skin around the sprain to look for tenderness, and check for bruising and instability.
Treatment usually involves physical therapy, ankle wraps, immobilization of the ankle with a cast, and regular follow-up visits.