Chronic Ankle Instability: A Widespread Problem
You’ve probably sprained your ankle or lost your balance due to a weakness in the ankle, whether it was walking
down a hill, running to catch a bus or playing your favourite sport. These seemingly minor incidents should not be
taken lightly, especially if the sprains occur frequently.
The ankle is a complex structure and its stability involves many bones, ligaments, muscles and joints. When
injured, these elements are weakened and this latent fragility can gradually lead to a feeling of insecurity with
respect to your balance. This fear of injury or the frustration of not being at your best can lead to reduced activity
or even a complete halt to physical activities requiring increased ankle mobility. Think of sports such as soccer,
basketball, soccer, hiking and the like.
Unfortunately, chronic ankle instability will gradually set in through a lack of consultation and injury. It can cause
premature osteoarthritis, recurrent pain and laxity of the foot muscles. This is why this musculoskeletal condition
must be evaluated at the first sprain by a podiatrist qualified in the treatment and rehabilitation of the lower limbs.
Why Won’t my Ankle Heal?
There are three reasons for this chronic ankle pain:
1. If the pathology is the result of repetitive sprains or a severe sprain, we can assume a mechanical origin. The
ligaments are stretched, weakened and less resistant.
2. Sometimes the cause is hereditary. A related problem then affects the components of the ligaments or joints,
and therefore the stability of the ankles.
3. Finally, chronic ankle instability is considered to be functional if there is an asymmetry of muscle tone or a
In the latter case, the particularity comes from the inability of the nervous system to properly assimilate
information related to movement and posture. Thus, the orders that the brain sends to the muscles, in order to
maintain an appropriate balance according to the position of the body and the surrounding objects, are altered.
In short, if your ankle suffers from instability and is at risk of twisting at any time, it’s important to follow
appropriate treatment, depending on the source of the discomfort. In addition, don’t be fooled by the following: no
more pain doesn’t automatically mean that the problem is solved and that you no longer need to recover.
Treatments for Chronic Ankle Instability
At the risk of repeating ourselves, the impact of a sprain should not be minimized, nor should the importance of
prompt management. First, the podiatrist will use x-rays and a diagnostic ultrasound to identify signs of
osteoarthritis, congenital foot deformity or tissue and bone damage.
Once diagnosed, as with most conditions, pain and inflammation should be controlled before beginning
strengthening and proprioception exercises. This treatment, targeted to the patient’s daily activities, remains the
best known to date for preventing future falls and collateral injuries. Success depends on consistent, long-term
application of the advice. Be disciplined and patient.
However, it’s possible that your ankle may not regain its optimal stability, especially if the condition is the result of
old, untreated injuries. It may be necessary to purchase appropriate footwear, wear orthotics and splints or have
ligamentoplasty surgery. It’s, therefore, best to consult a physician at the first sprain!