How to Keep a Sprained Ankle From Becoming Chronic Instability

There’s nothing good about the term “chronic.” When it accompanies a medical condition, it means that you’ll be managing it for the long term rather than treating it and moving on.

If you’ve suffered through multiple ankle sprains, you could be at risk for a condition known as chronic instability, when the outer side of your ankle gives way unexpectedly. It can happen when you’re in the middle of playing a sport, taking a walk, or simply standing.

Our team of highly trained podiatrists at Great Lakes Foot and Ankle Institute has decades of experience among them and expertise in everything from reconstructive surgery and limb salvage to vital preventive care for more common problems like chronic instability. 

If you’re focused on avoiding chronic ankle instability, you couldn’t be in the hands of a more highly-skilled, compassionate team than ours. 

The setup for chronic instability

You may consider a sprained ankle no big deal, and in some ways it isn’t. It’s not a broken bone, and home care can often help the discomfort subside, leading you to believe a trip to the doctor’s office is unnecessary.

Whether you’re walking, jumping, or running, a sprain can happen if your ankle receives too much pressure and bends at an odd angle. The pain you experience is often the result of your ligaments tearing or stretching, and swelling and bruising are also common. 

And unfortunately, sprained ankles don’t discriminate. They strike whether you’re mostly sedentary, a daily mover, or a devoted athlete.

The best way to treat a sprained ankle

Treating a sprain properly and promptly increases your chances of fending off chronic instability in the future. You may have learned about the RICE method for relieving this type of injury, and it’s the best immediate treatment for a sprain. The acronym stands for:

  • Rest
  • Ice application on the injured area
  • Compression, as with an elastic bandage
  • Elevation

A couple over-the-counter pain relievers may also be in order as you wait for the pain to lessen. 

Other care for a sprained ankle

Even if your swelling, bruising, and pain are gone, you need to consider the things you can’t see: your tendons and ligaments. It’s best to consult with a podiatrist to:

  • See if your healing is complete
  • Learn about ankle-strengthening exercises and stretches
  • Discuss everyday footwear options and shoes for sports
  • Consult about whether you need imaging tests
  • Rule out invasive procedures

You shouldn’t minimize a sprained ankle, precisely because of the risk of chronic instability. Repeated sprains initiate a negative snowball effect that you can avoid with early treatment, which greatly reduces the chances you’ll need surgery for improperly treated ankle problems, as well as potential future balance problems.

Ensure your peace of mind

Let our podiatry team steer you toward stronger ankles and away from chronic instability. They’re fully invested in providing you with the most advanced care, but delivered with heart.

Call one of Great Lake Foot and Ankle’s convenient offices to book an appointment, or schedule one yourself using our convenient online booking tool.