Overcoming Chronic Ankle Instability

June 21, 2015 Posted by Blue Ridge Foot and Ankle

If you characterize yourself as having “weak ankles,” and find your ankle giving way or turning when you are walking, running, playing golf, tennis, basketball, or other sports, you may suffer from chronic ankle instability. At Blue Ridge Foot & Ankle Clinic, we frequently treat patients for this condition. Other symptoms of chronic ankle instability include persistent discomfort and swelling of the ankle, pain or tenderness, and just a general feeling that the ankle is wobbly and unstable.

Causes of Chronic Ankle Instability

Most often, chronic ankle instability is the result of an ankle sprain or sprains that have not healed completely or were not rehabilitated fully after initial injury. When you sprain your ankle, the ligaments (connective tissues around the ankle) are over stretched and sometimes even torn, leaving them like a rubber band that has lost its ability to snap back. Physical therapy and exercises to properly rehabilitate the muscles around the ankle are necessary to strengthen them and retrain the tissues that are responsible for balance. If this rehabilitation does not happen, the likelihood of spraining the ankle again is greatly increased. With each additional sprain, the ligaments get weaker and additional ankle problems can develop.

Surgical and Non-surgical Treatments

After a thorough exam, which may include digital x-rays at one of our central VA locations, Dr. Stewart M. Chang or Dr. Kevin P. Murray will determine the best treatment for your chronic ankle instability based on your test results and level of activity. Common non-surgical treatments include:

  • Bracing: An ankle brace can provide support and keep the ankle from turning and thereby prevent another sprain.
  • Physical therapy: Exercises and other treatments can strengthen the ankle and retrain your muscles resulting in an improved range of motion and balance.
  • Medication: Ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to relieve pain and inflammation.

In severe cases, or if you are not responsive to non-surgical treatments, our board certified podiatrists many recommend surgery. If you are experiencing chronic ankle instability and would like more information about your condition, call our Charlottesville office (434-979-8116) or our Fishersville office (540-949-5150) to schedule an appointment or use our online appointment request form.

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