When ankle sprains are not effectively managed, long-standing ankle instability may develop.
When the ligaments of the ankle are repetitively injured or stressed without being adequately rehabilitated, chronic (or persistent) ankle instability may result. In fact, some studies have suggested that up to 74% of people who have experienced an ankle sprain will have persistent impairments (such as reduced balance, giving way, perceived instability) for 7 years after the initial injury. These impairments can significantly affect a person’s ability to perform their usual activities of daily living with many not being able to return to their previous physical activities.
The cause of chronic ankle instability is your response to ankle sprains
While it seems that ankle sprains are what lead to ankle instability, it’s actually the way that ankle sprains are managed that can determine whether ankle instability develops. As ankle sprains are a relatively common injury, many people will shrug them off without taking the time to properly rehabilitate the injury and help restore the strength and function of the ankle.
What are the symptoms?
If you have a history of ankle sprains and now feel a weakness in your ankle, have a sensation of giving way, or have a tendency to roll out on your foot more, you may have ankle instability. You may also feel that you have poor balance and control at your ankle.
Can ankle instability be treated?
Yes, working alongside your podiatrist, you can help manage ankle instability and reduce the likelihood of more ankle sprains. This may involve exercises to strengthen the muscles around the ankle and lower limb, by completing balance and stability training, using orthotics to add stability and limit side-to-side ankle movement, and ensuring that your footwear is supporting your ankle and not placing you at risk for another sprain.