Your lower limbs have an impressive number of muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments. Joints are biomechanical structures which combine and are supported by all of those tissues so movement can be possible. There are numerous joints throughout the body, but some of the most important ones are your ankle joints. You rely on your ankles for mobility and independence, so come visit us at one of our five Florida offices when you have an issue like chronic ankle instability.
Ankle Anatomy, Sprains, and Instability
One of the most valuable joints in your entire body, the ankle is constructed of bones and ligaments that allow you to move your foot in various directions. The three bones forming an ankle are your two lower leg bones (the tibia and fibula) and your talus (ankle bone).
The ankle bone sits directly on top of the heel bone, and the point where the two bones meet is the subtalar joint. This joint allows your foot to move from side to side. The tibia and fibula both rest upon the ankle bone, and this forms the true ankle joint (which is responsible for up and down foot movement). The bones are held in their respective places by several ligaments.
Ankle sprains often happen when a foot has been planted and then is injured due to a sudden shifting movement. This causes ligaments in the joint to stretch excessively and potentially tear.
Chronic ankle instability happens when a sprained ankle is not allowed to heal fully before normal activities are resumed, particularly those that are more intense in nature. This is the result of the weakened ankle being more likely to become reinjured. Repeated ankle sprains are the most common reason for the development of a chronic condition.
This particular injury can be a long-term, chronic condition wherein the outer side of the ankle has a greater propensity for giving way, and ankle sprains are more often sustained. In some cases, the ankle can even give way when an affected individual is merely standing in place. Common complaints are persistent swelling and discomfort,
tenderness, pain, and the feeling as though the ankle is unstable or wobbly.
Chronic Ankle Instability Treatment and Prevention
Chronic ankle instability is a side effect of either a sprain that didn’t heal correctly or multiple sprains to the same joint. In either case, the supporting ligaments are left damaged and unable to stabilize your ankle, making running and other sports very difficult. Treating the condition correctly helps you heal your joint as well as adapt so you can continue your activities.
Some of the best tips we have to offer to help keep your ankles stable and avoid a chronic condition center on:
- Braces for activities – Strenuous activities may be too much for your loose joint. Wear an ankle brace that allows you to move appropriately but will protect your joint from “giving out.”
- Shoes – Always pick models that are activity appropriate and fit properly. Lace them up tightly so as to protect your ankles during physical activities. Don’t forget to choose footwear that has sufficient arch support and cushioning to further protect your feet, since fatigue can increase the likelihood of injury.
- Strengthening – Strong muscles will help to provide greater support and stability, so be sure to incorporate strength training activities in your workout program. (Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean you need to become an Olympic weightlifter!)
- Stretching – Keep the connective tissues in your ankle joints limber by stretching on a regular basis. This will allow the connective tissues to have the greatest range of motion and not become sprained as easily as tight ligaments would.
- Sufficient recovery – When you do become hurt, especially with an ankle sprain, it is important to have the injury diagnosed and treated properly. This includes making sure you don’t rush too quickly back into action since this increases the likelihood of greater damage and risk for a recurring issue. We will let you know when it is safe to resume your normal activities.
The stronger the supporting muscles and tendons are around your ankle, the more you’re able to accommodate instability.
For additional information on chronic ankle instability—or any of the potential ankle injuries you might sustain—contact Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida. While on the line, request your appointment at any of our five offices – Orlando, Tavares, Kissimmee, Lake Mary, and Altamonte Springs. Call 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (if you live in Lake County) and our staff will be glad to assist you.