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How to Avoid Chronic Instability After a Severe Ankle Sprain

Feb 02, 2024

How to Avoid Chronic Instability After a Severe Ankle Sprain

Bedrest and gentle stretches are often enough to heal minor sprains, but a severely sprained ankle may never heal properly without professional help and can cause chronic instability.

A rolled or twisted ankle can become a lifelong problem if it’s left untreated. What seemed at the time like a minor accident might be more serious than you think, making it important to seek proper rehabilitation. To avoid chronic instability after a severe sprain, consider consulting a sports medicine doctor with experience getting athletes back on the field. 

At Advanced Orthopedics & Sports Medicine (AOSM), located in Union City and Dyersburg, Tennessee, Dr. Michael Calfee, Paxton Sisson PA-C, and the rest of our skilled team routinely diagnose and treat ankle pain. We can help you prevent small problems from turning into big ones.  

What causes chronic instability? 

Ankle injuries are common among both athletes and average people. One wrong step can cause your ankle to roll underneath you, or a sudden change in direction can twist the vulnerable joint too hard. Hard landings and falls can also lead to ankle injuries, up to and including fractures. 

Chronic ankle instability is more common than you might think, affecting an estimated 20% of people with acute injuries. Despite this, many people underestimate ankle pain, and rarely seek out the treatment and rehabilitation they really need. 

Instability occurs when a joint fails to heal correctly, leaving it susceptible to re-injury. This is most common with sprained ankles, as ligament damage is difficult for the body to heal if the tissue has been severely stretched or torn. 

To avoid ankle instability, additional injuries, and later-age arthritis, you’ll need to act accordingly, getting yourself proper treatment after a severe sprain and taking the time you need to heal completely. 

Avoiding instability after a severe ankle sprain 

Immediately following an ankle injury, it’s extremely important that you perform the RICE method. This means resting, icing, compressing, and elevating your ankle. If swelling is severe, or the pain is bad enough you can’t fall asleep, you’ll definitely need to see a professional.

Most ankle injuries appear the same from the outside, and tenderness and swelling can make it difficult to determine exactly what happened. Dr. Calfee and Dr. Sisson have experience diagnosing ankle injuries, separating strains from sprains and providing insight into what’s happening beneath the surface. 

From there, they can begin building a treatment plan to alleviate pain and promote healing. Your personalized rehabilitation might include: 

  • Immobilization (casts, braces, and bandages)
  • OTC or prescription pain medication 
  • Movement modifications 
  • Steroid injections 
  • Physical therapy 

If you have concerns about chronic instability, our sports medicine specialists can provide you with preventive actions you can take to keep your ankle joints as healthy and supported as possible in the future.

To schedule an appointment at Advanced Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, call the location closest to you, or book an appointment online