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How to Prevent a Sprained Ankle from Becoming a Chronic Instability

Mar 16, 2023
A sprained ankle is an injury that leaves you benched for several weeks — but without the proper treatment, you could also suffer chronic ankle instability. Keep reading to learn prevention tips for ankle instability after spraining your ankle.

Ankle sprains pop up at the most inopportune times, including in the middle of a sporting event or from stepping off the curb in the wrong way. The initial injury is painful and bad enough, but the consequences of an ankle sprain can spread months to years down the road.

At Toe-Tal Foot and Ankle Care, our team offers quick and efficient treatment for ankle sprains to prevent complications like chronic ankle instability after a sprain. Dr. Daniel Cairns is our podiatry specialist, offering specialized treatments to stabilize your ankle joint.

What is chronic ankle instability?

Chronic instability in your ankle is due to repeated ankle sprains and leads to your ankle giving out consistently. If you have this condition, your ankle may give way during sports, exercise, or simply while standing in your kitchen.

Many athletes suffer from chronic ankle instability after several ankle sprains that haven't rehabilitated fully. When you have this condition, you're at risk for repeated ankle sprains and more damage to your ankle joint.

Your ankle may feel like it's wobbly and going to give out at any moment when you have chronic instability. Pain and tenderness in your ankle joint are also very common, along with chronic swelling.

The essential step in preventing chronic ankle instability is allowing your sprained ankle to heal properly. Rehabilitation is the key to avoiding further sprains and instability in your joint after an injury.

What to do after a sprained ankle

The first step after you think you've sprained your ankle is to stop what you're doing. If you're exercising or playing sports, take the weight off of your ankle right away. You don't want to continue playing through pain.

Next, assess your injury. Do you notice bruising or extreme swelling, or is the pain mild with a decreased range of motion? Determining the extent of your damage helps you decide whether you need to see a doctor.

If you have a mild to moderate ankle sprain, follow the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method to decrease pain and reduce swelling.

Rest your ankle for a few days to allow the ligaments to heal. Elevate your ankle and apply ice several times daily to minimize swelling. You can also use a compression bandage around your ankle, which also reduces swelling and helps with pain.

For a more severe ankle sprain, you should come into our office to ensure your injury heals properly. Dr. Cairns evaluates your ankle to determine the best treatment route for your sprain.

Tips to prevent chronic ankle instability

Preventing ankle instability after an ankle sprain is crucial to your future activities. Without the proper care and treatment, you're likely to suffer more sprains affecting your ankle joints' integrity.

However, there are several steps you can take after an ankle sprain to prevent instability, including:

Physical therapy

After an ankle sprain, physical therapy is essential to the healing process. Your physical therapy regimen includes strengthening exercises, flexibility training, and pain management to get you back on your feet after a sprain.

Ankle brace

An ankle brace is a great tool when you're prone to ankle sprains and are worried about chronic instability. Ankle braces provide stability to your joint while you heal from your sprain.

Well-fitted shoes

Your shoes are vital to your foot and ankle health. You want to wear shoes that fit appropriately and support your arch and ankles. Improperly-fitted shoes can cause you to roll your ankles, resulting in sprains and instability.

Practicing balance

Good balance is crucial in preventing repeat ankle sprains and chronic ankle instability. To prevent issues after a sprained ankle, practice your balance by standing on the affected leg while holding your other leg up. To make it more challenging, you can close your eyes while balancing.

Strengthening your ankles

Ankle stretching exercises are an essential part of healing from a sprain. Strong ankles help you avoid instability in a sprained ankle. Your physical therapist may include strength exercises to practice at home to strengthen the muscles around your ankle joint.

The most important step after an ankle sprain is following the care plan Dr. Cairns gives you. With the proper home care and treatment plan, your ankles remain stable, and you can prevent further injuries.

Call our Toe-Tal Foot & Ankle Care team today at 817-518-7348 to make an appointment with Dr. Cairns for a sprained ankle. You may also book online or send us a message.