How To Keep an Ankle Sprain from Becoming Chronically Unstable

You may think an ankle sprain is no big deal. Ankle sprains are, after all, one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries. However, there’s about a 20% chance an ankle sprain will develop into a condition called chronic ankle instability.

At Next Step Orthopedics in McKinney, Texas, Dr. Dominique Nickson can give your ankle sprain a thorough evaluation and provide the proper treatment.

Types of ankle sprains

There are basically three kinds of ankle sprains, but the most common is a lateral ankle sprain. In this type of sprain, your foot rolls inward, and the ligaments on the outside of your ankle are injured. Those ligaments are the:

The two other ankle sprains are medial ankle sprains and syndesmotic sprains. Medial ankle sprains, which occur when the foot rolls outward, damage the deltoid ligaments on the inside of the ankle. Syndesmotic sprains, which can occur with any ankle motion, damage the ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula in the lower leg.

What happens when you have chronic instability

If you have chronic ankle instability, you repeatedly sprain your ankle. It could happen while you’re walking, performing an activity, or even just standing. Walking across uneven surfaces, such as a gravel parking lot or a hiking trail, is especially likely to cause a sprain. 

With chronic ankle instability, you will also have persistent swelling and discomfort, as well as a feeling of instability. Pain and tenderness are also symptoms of chronic instability. 

Avoiding chronic ankle instability 

Sprains are categorized from Grade 1 to Grade 3, with Grade 1 being mild and Grade 3 being severe. A severe sprain is far more likely to result in chronic instability, but even repeated Grade 1 sprains could lead to a chronic condition. 

The best way to avoid chronic instability is to get treatment for a sprained ankle so that you fully recover, thus lowering your risk of chronic instability. 

What to do when you sprain your ankle

As soon as you sprain your ankle, take steps to limit further damage to your ligaments. That means applying the RICE method, which stands for resting your ankle, applying ice to it, compressing it with a wrap or medical bandage, and elevating your ankle.

The next step is to book an appointment as soon as possible with Dr. Nickson, unless the pain and swelling are severe enough to require a visit to the emergency room. In the latter case, book a follow-up appointment with Dr. Nickson.

Dr. Nickson will evaluate your injury and put you on the path to healing. He’ll discuss your medical history, lifestyle, and other factors that are likely to impact how your ankle heals.

If you’ve recently sprained your ankle, or you frequently sprain your ankle and think you may have chronic ankle instability, book an appointment online or over the phone with Next Step Orthopedics.

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