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How to Keep a Sprained Ankle From Becoming Chronic Instability

Most people have taken an awkward step or rolled their ankle in a fall at some point in their lives. A sprained ankle is a common injury that occurs when the ligaments around the joint stretch or tear when you accidentally twist or roll your ankle. 

Up to 20% of all ankle sprains lead to chronic ankle instability. Chronic instability means your ankle is weaker following a sprain and your risk of getting another injury is much higher. Ankle instability can be painful and make it harder to enjoy daily life.

Learning how to care for an ankle sprain and giving your ankle a rest helps your body heal faster and keep the joint strong. For the best in ankle sprain care, turn to us at Peninsula Orthopedic Associates. Contact one of our convenient locations in Atherton, Daly City, and San Francisco, California, to learn more.

What happens when you sprain your ankle

The joints in your body are held together with the help of ligaments, which are strong bands of fibrous tissue. Ligaments stabilize and strengthen joints, helping them move in the right direction as you go through life. 

A sprained ankle can happen when you take an awkward step and your ankle twists, turns, or rolls to the side. When this happens, the ligaments holding your ankle together stretch or tear and a sprain occurs. 

Most of the time, you notice a sprained ankle as soon as it happens. Symptoms can vary depending on the severity of your injury, but often include:

There are ligaments surrounding the ankle on all sides, but most sprained ankles damage the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. 

Give sprains time to heal properly

Sprains can range from mild to severe. If you experience any of the above symptoms after an awkward step, fall, or accident, it’s a good idea to get your ankle examined. Proper diagnosis helps you get the right treatment to prevent future sprains and other issues, like chronic instability. 

Our team often recommends following the RICE recovery method for most mild sprains. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Mild sprains should feel better after a few days of rest and care.

As you get back to daily life, be careful when reintroducing physical activity. Be careful when walking on uneven surfaces and wear appropriate shoes for every activity. Warming up and stretching before exercising helps prevent injury and strengthen your ankle.

It’s important to give your ankle the time it needs to heal. Ligaments can take up to 12 weeks to fully heal from severe sprains. Always follow our team’s guidelines for recovery and make sure your ankle is completely healed before returning to normal activities.

Chronic instability makes ankles prone to future injury

If you develop a chronic instability, you’re at risk for additional ankle sprains and other foot and ankle problems. Repeated sprains continue to weaken the ligaments in your ankle, making the joint more unstable.

Our team offers a variety of treatment options for patients who have chronic instability and pain. Physical therapy and wearing an ankle brace can help protect your ankle from suffering another injury, while medications like NSAIDs can reduce inflammation and pain.

Surgery is an option for patients with severe ankle instability who haven’t found relief with nonsurgical treatment options. Chronic instability surgery focuses on repairing damaged ligaments to restore strength to the ankle joint.

Whether you just sprained your ankle or you’re concerned you may have chronic instability, we’re here to help. Call the Peninsula Orthopedic Associates location closest to you or book an appointment online today.

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