How To Keep a Sprained Ankle From Becoming Chronic Instability

Your ankle is an amazing and complex joint. It bears your weight, and moves in all directions to keep you stable with each step, jump, hop, and movement. It’s composed of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Although your ankle is impressively mobile, moving it too far in any direction can result in pain.  Nearly everyone has experienced the particular pain of a twisted ankle, and most of us know the more intense pain that comes with a sprain.

When the tendons, ligaments, or muscles in your ankle are stretched too far, or even torn, the result is injury. When the ligaments specifically are overstretched or torn, you suffer a sprain. Most of the time you can heal completely within a few weeks by following the classic RICE protocol: 

When RICE isn’t enough

Sometimes, though, RICE isn’t enough. There are a few reasons your ankle may not heal properly with rest, ice, compression, and elevation alone

If you’ve sprained your ankle more than once in a few months, the soft tissues of your ankle may not have been fully healed, for example. Or if the muscles in your ankle aren’t strong enough for you to return to normal activity, RICE may not be enough.

When the conservative RICE approach simply isn’t enough for a sprain to heal properly, it’s important to seek medical care from a specialist at Progressive Podiatry because you’re at risk of developing chronic instability. 

What is chronic instability? 

As you might expect based on the name, chronic instability is when your ankle can’t be trusted to remain stable. It may suddenly give way while you’re walking, or in some cases, even when you’re simply standing still.

Chronic ankle instability can interfere with your daily life. It limits your ability to participate in activities, or even to do normal things like walking through the grocery store.

Additionally, chronic ankle instability also increases the likelihood of repeated sprains, which could certainly worsen in severity over time. It may take longer to heal with each sprain, or even lead to surgery. 

When to seek treatment for an ankle sprain

So, how do you determine the difference between an average sprain that will heal with RICE and a more severe sprain that requires more extensive care? There are several indicators.

First, if there’s an obvious deformity to your ankle, seek immediate care. Second, if your ankle doesn’t seem to be improving within a couple of days, you should book an appointment at Progressive Podiatry.

It’s normal for your ankle to swell in response to injury, but if the swelling doesn’t improve with RICE, you should see a specialist. Most sprains are completely healed within 2-12 weeks, so if your injury continues after that you likely need more extensive care. 

Treatment 

Your body and your injury are unique, so your treatment will be as well. Our providers evaluate each patient individually and suggest a treatment plan based on your circumstances. However, there are some common treatment approaches that are frequently beneficial for sprains. 

You may need to perform some specialized exercises to help the muscles regain the strength necessary to support your ankle joint. Bracing may be a good way to support your ankle as it heals. Anti-inflammatory medications and surgical intervention are also options for treating ankle issues. 

If you’ve experienced repeated ankle sprains, or your ankle just doesn’t feel stable, book an appointment at one of our four convenient locations. You can use our simple online scheduling tool, or call the location that works best for you. 

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