Ever notice that you seem to sprain your ankles multiple times a year? Afraid to walk on uneven surfaces because you know that will result in pain or a sprained ankle? Think you have "weak ankles"? This is all known as chronic ankle instability.
Chronic ankle instability is characterized as a recurrent sprain or weakness in the outside or lateral ankle. This is different from an isolated injury. With chronic ankle instability, patients will complain of their ankles "turning over" or "giving way" without trauma and it happens on a repeating basis. Some may turn their ankles just by walking down the hallway in their home. Other complaints heard from these patients include ankle pain, swelling and a constant feeling of pressure or discomfort in the ankle. It is important to seek treatment if you have these symptoms. If left untreated, chronic ankle instability can lead to arthritis, tendon dysfunction and significant limitation of your daily activities.
Ankle instability often develops after a significant ankle sprain that does not heal well or is not appropriately rehabilitated. With an ankle sprain, the ligaments can be stretched or torn and without proper post injury care, can result in a ligament that no longer stabilizes the ankle joint. This predisposes the ankle joint to future injury with minor trauma. People with a high-arched foot or cavus foot can also have chronic ankle instability because of the foot type they were born with.
Diagnosis of chronic ankle instability begins with a complete history of any previous injuries and symptoms of ankle instability. Xrays will also be taken to evaluate the joints and bones of the foot and ankle. MRI's may also be helpful in diagnosis the cause of your instability .
Treatment for this condition will begin with physical therapy in attempt to strengthen the outer ligaments and ankle joint to prevent further injury. This often is combined with custom orthotics which can prevent your ankles from rolling out and reduce the pressure to your lateral ligaments. An ankle brace can help support and also prevents the ankle from rolling. If inflammation is present, an anti-inflammatory drug may be prescribed as well.
For severe cases, surgery may be necessary to prevent constant injury if conservative treatments have failed. There are multiple procedures that can be performed including new techniques to stabilize or replace your ligaments, but that decision is based on the severity of your condition.
If you suffer from chronic instability, help is on the way! Contact your podiatric foot and ankle surgeon today! Wobbling through the day is no way to live!