Dealing with Chronic Ankle Sprains

Mar 10, 2023
misc image
With it being rainy, cold and wet outside I've seen a lot of patients coming in for ankle sprains and fractures due to slip and falls. Here are some tips on how to take care of nagging ankle sprains.

Ankle sprains are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries and can occur during everyday activities, sports, or exercise. Although most ankle sprains heal within a few weeks with proper care, some can become chronic and require more extensive treatment. Chronic ankle sprains can lead to ongoing pain, instability, and a higher risk of future injuries. In this blog, we will discuss how to treat chronic ankle sprains and prevent future occurrences.

  1. Rest and Ice The first step in treating chronic ankle sprains is to rest the ankle and apply ice. Resting the ankle will help reduce swelling and pain, while ice will help reduce inflammation. Ice should be applied for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. It is important to avoid heat during the initial stages of an ankle sprain, as heat can increase inflammation.

  2. Compression Compression can help reduce swelling and provide support to the ankle. Compression can be achieved by using an elastic bandage, which should be wrapped tightly but not too tight to cut off circulation. The bandage should be removed at night to allow the ankle to breathe.

  3. Elevation Elevating the ankle above heart level can help reduce swelling and promote healing. This can be achieved by propping the ankle up on pillows or a raised surface.

  4. Physical Therapy Physical therapy can be an effective way to treat chronic ankle sprains. A physical therapist can design a rehabilitation program tailored to the individual's specific needs, including exercises to improve strength, flexibility, balance, and range of motion. They may also use techniques such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or manual therapy to reduce pain and promote healing.

  5. Bracing An ankle brace or support can provide additional stability and support to the ankle. Bracing can also help prevent future ankle sprains. Ankle braces can be purchased at sporting goods stores or prescribed by a doctor or physical therapist.

  6. Surgery In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to treat chronic ankle sprains. Surgery may be recommended if the ankle is unstable or if conservative treatments have failed to improve symptoms. Surgical options may include ankle arthroscopy or ankle reconstruction.

  7. Preventative Measures Preventing future ankle sprains is crucial in the treatment of chronic ankle sprains. Some preventative measures include:

  • Wearing supportive shoes that fit well
  • Using ankle braces or supports during physical activity
  • Strengthening the ankle through exercises
  • Maintaining good flexibility and range of motion in the ankle
  • Avoiding uneven surfaces and risky activities

In conclusion, chronic ankle sprains can be a challenging condition to treat. However, with a combination of rest, ice, compression, physical therapy, bracing, and surgery, most individuals can achieve significant improvement. Preventative measures such as wearing supportive shoes, using ankle braces, and strengthening the ankle can also help prevent future ankle sprains. If you are experiencing chronic ankle pain or instability, it is important to seek the advice of a medical professional.