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How to Prevent Chronic Instability After a Severe Ankle Sprain

How to Prevent Chronic Instability After a Severe Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are extremely common among people of all ages. You could get an ankle sprain from tripping and falling or from playing sports – keeping you off your feet for weeks to heal.

Severe ankle sprains are especially troublesome because they can lead to long-term complications like chronic ankle instability. Without the proper treatment, you're at risk for repeat strains and the potential need for surgical repair.

At Beltsville Foot and Ankle Center, Dr. David Deiboldt assesses your injury. He provides fast treatment to help you heal after an ankle sprain. Dr. Deiboldt is a board-certified podiatrist providing bracing, medications, and physical therapy for sprained ankles.

What is a severe ankle sprain?

An ankle sprain is a potentially significant injury that affects the ligaments in the ankle joint. The ligaments are highly durable, but twisting or working out on uneven ground can cause injuries to the tissues in and around the joint.

Your ankle joint has many ligaments, any of which you can sprain with overuse or a simple trip on a curb. Ankle sprains vary in severity, from a minor grade one sprain to a severe grade three tear.

A severe ankle sprain may exhibit signs of a fracture, including fast and aggressive swelling, bruising, and tenderness. It's common to have trouble bearing weight on the affected ankle, and pain persists even during rest.

When you have a severe sprain, multiple ligaments may stretch past their usual range, and some may tear. Severe sprains often require treatment, including bracing and physical therapy, to rebuild strength in and around the joint.

Chronic ankle instability – what is it?

Chronic ankle instability is one of the main complications after an ankle sprain. It typically occurs when the ligaments haven't had the time to heal fully, putting you at risk for further injury.

Although chronic ankle instability often happens after repeated ankle sprains, you could develop the issue after one severe sprain that doesn't heal properly. The unhealed ligaments can't support the ankle joint properly, leading to the following problems:

Most people suffer from chronic ankle instability when returning to activities too quickly after a sprain. Not fully rehabilitating the ligaments, muscles, and tendons around the ankle may cause chronic instability.

The primary issue associated with chronic ankle instability is the higher likelihood of repeat sprains. With every new sprain, your chances of developing chronic ankle instability rise, and the need for surgical intervention increases.

Tips to prevent instability after a sprain

It's vital to properly care for a sprained ankle and fully rehabilitate the injury to avoid complications like chronic ankle instability. Seeking treatment for an injury is critical to keeping the joint healthy.

Dr. Deiboldt suggests various tips to keep your ankle healthy after a sprain. The following are expert tips that allow you to avoid chronic ankle instability after a severe sprain:

Allow the sprain to heal fully

The key to preventing complications after a sprain is simple: allow the ligaments to heal fully. Each grade of sprain requires a specific amount of time to heal; a minor sprain may only take a few weeks, while severe sprains often take several months to heal.

Participate in rehabilitation

Rigorous rehabilitation is another crucial component after a severe ankle sprain. The torn ligaments are weak and vulnerable, so strengthening the muscles and tendons around the injury is essential.

Physical therapy and rehabilitation focuses on balance training, strength building, and coordination to prevent further sprains and instability.

Seek treatment early on

You may want to attempt to treat an ankle sprain at home, but that's not the best idea. Following the rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) protocol helps, but it isn't a substitute for professional care and treatment.

The earlier you seek treatment for a sprain, the better the outcome is. We provide braces, physical therapy, and medication to help you heal quickly after an injury.

Work on your balance

Balance is one of the main things that a sprain affects, which could lead to repeat injuries and instability. Balance training after a severe sprain can prevent further sprains and chronic instability in the ankle.

Wear an ankle brace

The ankle brace you wear after a severe sprain helps keep the joint immobile as the ligaments heal. You may need to wear the brace for several weeks with a severe sprain to keep the ankle stable and prevent further injury to the ligaments.

Call Beltsville Foot and Ankle Center today for ankle sprain treatment, or use our convenient online scheduling tool to request a consultation with Dr. Dieboldt.

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