Does your ankle often “give out” or twist when you are walking (particularly on uneven surfaces) or participating in sports activities? Do you experience pain, tenderness or soreness in your ankle on a regular basis? Is there persistent swelling in the ankle? If you answered yes to these questions you may have a condition we see fairly often at Texas Foot Specialists: chronic ankle instability.
Evaluating Your Ankle
It’s essential to have one of our podiatrists, Dr. Gregory Magnum or Dr. Bruce Miller, examine your ankle to get an accurate assessment of its condition. Have you had previous ankle sprains or injuries? The foot doctor will want to know about past ankle issues. Most often, chronic ankle instability is the result of an ankle sprain (or sprains) that have not been rehabilitated properly or that have not completely healed. An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments around your ankle get severely and suddenly overstretched or torn. It takes time for the ligaments to be retrained. Often patients make the mistake of thinking that once they are no longer in pain their ankle is healed and they can discontinue treatment and resume full activities. This is not the case. Even with the pain gone, your balance is still affected by an injured ankle which can leave you susceptible to another injury. In addition, rehabilitation of the ankle includes strengthening the muscles around the ankle to provide necessary support. When full rehabilitation does not occur, repeated sprains are likely, starting a bad cycle, with each injury further weakening the ligaments and making more injuries likely.
In addition to physically examining your ankle and checking for swelling and tenderness, the podiatrist may order x-rays or other imaging studies to get a more complete picture of the condition of your ankle.
What the foot doctor finds during the evaluation of your ankle will determine the treatment. If you are currently experiencing a fair amount of pain and inflammation, the podiatrist may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce those symptoms. Physical therapy may be prescribed along with a brace to provide support and help keep the ankle from turning. In cases where severe ligament damage is present, surgery may be necessary.