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How to Prevent Chronic Instability After a Severe Ankle Injury

How to Prevent Chronic Instability After a Severe Ankle Injury

A severe ankle injury can be debilitating. Ankle pain, swelling, and weakness limit your mobility and your daily life. But unfortunately, those symptoms don’t always go away once the injury heals.

About 20% of people who sprain their ankles develop chronic instability, and sprains aren’t the only cause. Any injury that damages the structures of your ankle joint can put you at risk of chronic ankle instability and pain.

Although chronic instability is common, it isn’t inevitable. You can take steps to prevent chronic instability after a severe ankle injury, and our team at The Foot & Ankle Specialists can help.

If you find yourself with a severe ankle injury, here’s how you can lower your risk of chronic ankle instability after you recover.

Get proper medical attention

The first step in preventing chronic instability after a severe ankle injury is to seek prompt medical attention. If you hurt your ankle, go to the emergency room, or make an appointment with an ankle specialist.

Lisa Burson, DPM, and Joe Aoun, DPM, can examine your ankle and diagnose your injury at The Foot & Ankle Specialists.  It's important to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible, so you can get started on an appropriate treatment plan.

Use crutches, a boot, or other assistive devices

Depending on the severity of your injury, we may recommend using an assistive device like crutches or a brace. Assistive devices help you get around without bearing too much weight on your damaged ankle.

Crutches, a boot, a brace, or a cast can offer extra support for your ankle and limit ankle movement during the healing process. Immobilization plays an important role in reducing your risk of re-injury, especially in the first stages of healing.

Follow your rehabilitation plan

Once you get a treatment plan, it's important to follow it closely. Pushing yourself too hard too soon after an ankle injury is one of the most common causes of chronic ankle instability.

Instead, follow our recommendations for resting, as well as physical therapy and other forms of rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is particularly important if you had ankle surgery to repair your injury.

Participate in physical therapy

As your ankle injury starts to heal, we start you on a physical therapy program to build strength and flexibility. Therapy typically includes exercises that focus on your ankle and foot, along with other exercises that target your whole leg. 

The goal of physical therapy is to strengthen the muscles surrounding your ankle, and to improve your balance and coordination. Strength, balance, and flexibility all help accelerate healing and reduce your risk of re-injury and chronic instability.

Wear appropriate shoes

Wearing the right shoes for your activity becomes especially important after suffering an ankle injury. Look for shoes that provide support and stability for your ankle, like boots with high ankle and good arch support. Avoid high heels and shoes that are too tight, which can put extra stress on your ankle as it heals.

Reintroduce activity slowly

As you regain strength, Dr. Burson and Dr. Aoun guide you in reintroducing your favorite activities. We may recommend avoiding high-risk activities that involve a lot of jumping, twisting, or turning, such as basketball or soccer. If you want to return to these types of activities, it's important to do so gradually and under our guidance.

Suffering a severe ankle injury can put you at risk of chronic instability. Fortunately, long-term pain isn’t inevitable. Recovery takes time and patience, but with the right approach, you can prevent chronic instability and regain mobility and strength in your ankle.

Call The Foot & Ankle Specialists in Bay City, Caro, or Lapeer, Michigan, or request your first appointment online today.

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