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How to Prevent Ankle Instability After a Severe Sprain

When it comes to ankle sprains, there’s good news and bad news. 

The good news is that ankle sprains are common and usually not critical. With a few days of rest and home care, most ankle sprains heal on their own.

The bad news is that spraining your ankle once increases your risk for doing it again. If the ankle doesn’t heal properly, you can have ongoing issues with the connective tissue. This bumps up your risk for future sprains. Medical experts call this chronic ankle instability

Now, here’s some good news to counter that bit of bad news. If you suffer from repeated ankle sprains, we can help. At North Central Texas Foot & Ankle in Roanoke and Decatur, Texas, Samantha Childers, DPM, and Ricky Childers, DPM, apply their expertise in ankle sprains to help people just like you get back on their feet — for good. 

Preventing instability after your first sprain

If there was ever a time to practice good self-care, this is it. Rest matters when you need your ankle to heal. It might be tempting to hobble around, but do your best to stay completely off the ankle for at least a few days after your sprain. 

Your home care plan should also include:

Don’t try to resume your normal daily activities until you can put your full weight on the ankle with no discomfort. If you rush back into things, the complicated network of muscles, ligaments, and tendons that stabilizes your ankle might not have time to properly heal.

Once you can put your full weight on your ankle, ease back into any athletic endeavors. Go slowly to ensure nothing causes discomfort, indicating that the ankle needs more time to heal. Make sure you warm up before exercising, too, and stretch afterward. 

Supporting your ankle after repeat sprains

Proper shoes can go a long way here. If you always sprain your ankle wearing the wrong shoes playing a sport (e.g., cross-trainers while playing basketball) or going about your day (e.g., high heels or platforms), it’s time to make some shoe changes. Choose the right shoe for the task at hand and prioritize protecting your ankle over fashion. If you have chronic ankle instability, you need shoes that will provide structure to help your ankle. 

Physical therapy and wearing an ankle brace can help to repair the instability in your ankle. Drs. Childers recommend trying these conservative treatment options first. 

If your ankle doesn’t get stronger, and you still suffer from recurring sprains, surgery can help. Specific surgical techniques can repair the ligaments that don’t function properly, causing your instability.

Whether you sprained your ankle for the first time or this is a recurring problem for you, we’re here. To schedule an ankle care appointment, call or message one of our offices today. 

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