Comedians sometimes use pratfalls as a way to get some laughs, but there’s nothing funny about falling because your ankle can’t seem to support your weight. If your ankle keeps giving out on you, it can be more than just embarrassing and bothersome—you could have a condition known as chronic ankle instability.
Why You’re Wobbly
Most times this condition occurs due to an ankle sprain that hasn’t healed correctly, which can then lead to repeated ankle sprains that stretch your ankle’s supporting ligaments over and over again. With each subsequent sprain, the muscles and ligaments surrounding your ankle become weaker and less able to provide the support needed to balance and bear your weight. Essentially, ankle sprains cause chronic ankle instability and that instability causes ankle sprains! Athletes are especially prone to this problem, however it can happen to anyone who sprains an ankle and doesn’t rehabilitate it properly.
Signs of Instability
The main symptom of chronic ankle instability is the feeling that your ankle is giving out from underneath you (or your ankle actually giving way) most often when you are walking or participating in sports or other activities. However, this wobbly feeling can actually happen when you’re simply standing as well. You might roll or turn your ankle as a result, clearly making the problem even worse. You could also experience pain, tenderness, swelling, and possible bruising around the affected area, and you may even acquire a limp.
Keeping You on Your Feet
Treatment for this condition depends on the severity of the problem as well as your lifestyle and activities. Physical therapy can help the muscles around your ankle to regain strength and exercises can also restore range of motion and balance. Wearing an ankle brace will provide support and help to prevent additional sprains. Anti-inflammatory medication may also be recommended to minimize swelling and pain. If these measures are unsuccessful in addressing your instability, or the condition has reached a high level of severity, surgery may be necessary to repair or reconstruct damaged ligaments and restore function.
Taking Steps to Stay Upright
There are things you can do to prevent chronic ankle instability beginning with taking precautionary measures to avoid ankle sprains in the first place. Perform strengthening exercises for your ankle muscles, do stretches to loosen tight Achilles tendons, and wear proper footwear for your activity. If you do sprain your ankle, be sure to have us take a look at it to ensure the proper treatment plan is put in place. R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) may be all that is needed, but without a diagnosis, you can’t be sure.
You can make an appointment with Dr. Darren Elenburg by calling our Oklahoma City, OK office at (405) 463-6700, or if you prefer, you can use our online contact form. Remember, Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma is here for all of your foot care needs. Call us for the help you need to stay active and healthy. We are always happy to assist you!
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