The human body is incredible. If you break a bone, it can work to repair itself, often with little help from doctors. The same can be said for the human body and getting a cut. If you suffer from a cut, eventually, it will heal itself. The main takeaway from the body’s ability to heal itself is that through rest, it is possible. If you do not allow your body to rest and repair damaged tissue, you could potentially develop a chronic condition. This is exceptionally true when it comes to ankle instability.

What is chronic ankle instability?

Your ankle is comprised of three bones, the tibia, fibula, and talus. These bones are held together with numerous ligaments that surround the ankle joints.

Chronic ankle instability is a condition that is characterized by the lateral (outer) side of the ankle consistently giving way. Ankle instability becomes a chronic condition when the ankle injury does not have time to recover and heal between repeated sprains. When you suffer from continuous sprains, the ligament that holds your bones in place stretches, causing long-term issues to form; long-term problems can even mean ligaments or connective tissues being torn.

According to the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, an estimated one in 10,000 people sprain their ankles every day. The Hospital for Special Surgery goes on to claim that 10% of these individuals develop ankle instability.

What happens to your body when you sprain your ankle?

The joints of your body are held together by fibrous tissue known as ligaments. These ligaments work to stabilize your joints, allowing you to move freely and safely. When you take an awkward step and stretch or damage your ligaments by twisting or turning your ankle, the result is a sprained ankle.

What causes chronic ankle instability?

Though there are many reasons ankle instability can become an issue, the most common cause of this condition is repeated sprained ankles that are not allowed the time to heal between injuries properly. In addition, as the ligaments in your ankle continue to stretch with each repeated sprain, an individual with chronic ankle instability will find their ankle gives way during simple activities such as walking.

How is this condition diagnosed?

Individuals who suffer from chronic ankle instability often complain of:

  • Having turned their ankle repeatedly. 
  • Suffering from persistent discomfort and swelling. 
  • Pain or tenderness is a common complaint. 
  • Their ankle feels unsafe or unstable. 

Generally speaking, people that suffer from ankle issues wait too long to see a specialist. When someone does not get proper treatment for an ankle sprain, over time, the problem can lead to ankle instability and, eventually, arthritis of the ankle.

What should I expect in meeting with a specialist about chronic ankle instability?

During your exam with Metro Tulsa Foot and Ankle Specialists, our medical professionals will ask about your history of ankle injuries. They will then look at your ankle, checking for tender areas, or swelling, while also completing a mechanical instability assessment. During this assessment, the specialist will look for your ankle’s motion beyond the normal physiological range. Based on their findings, x-rays may be used to see the stress of your ankle, or the specialist may utilize an MRI scan as a method to further evaluate for this condition.

Are there treatment options for chronic ankle instability?

Treatment for chronic ankle instability is based on the results of your examination and tests with Metro Tulsa Foot and Ankle Specialists. Non-surgical options are available and include physical therapy, bracing, and medications. With a medical team by your side, you will have the ability and know-how to attempt to strengthen your ankle in order to prevent instability from continuing. This can help, but not always. In some situations, our surgical experts may recommend surgery due to the degree of instability or lack of response to non-surgical approaches. Still, there are non-surgical options we will seek out prior.

If surgery is necessary, our surgical staff will work hand-in-hand with you to explain the surgical techniques we will use and what the recovery process will look like for you. Generally speaking, surgery involves shortening and tightening ankle ligaments is the best option to make a

 How can you prevent ankle instability?

There are many ways to prevent ankle instability. Still, the most important tip we have for you at Metro Tulsa Foot and Ankle Specialists is that after you have an injury such as a sprain, it is crucial that you allow proper rest and recovery to take place.

Other ways to prevent ankle instability are:

  • Seeing a specialist at Metro Tulsa Foot and Ankle Specialists before starting a workout regimen post-injury. 
  • Post clearance from our specialists, workout routines should begin with five to ten minutes worth of movement at a time. 
  • When you maintain a healthy weight, you will also prevent ankle instability. 
  • Should you feel swelling post-exercise, use ice as a compress to reduce pain and swelling. 
  • Wearing supportive shoes can help prevent further injury. 
  • Listen to your body. Should you feel ankle issues starting to arise, make sure you take a break from activities that could cause the problems and rest.

Your ankles play a large part in your foundation, so ensuring they are strong and able to support your entire body will help you throughout your life.

If you suspect you are suffering from ankle instability, schedule an appointment with Metro Tulsa Foot & Ankle Specialists today.

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