chronic ankle instability

What is Ankle Instability?

Chronic ankle instability is a condition characterized by “giving way” of the outer (lateral) side of the ankle due to repetitive ankle sprains. This “giving way” often occurs during activities of daily living including walking.

What are the symptoms of Ankle Instability?

Many people suffer from chronic ankle instability and often complain of:

  • Repeated “rolling in” of the ankle on uneven surfaces
  • Persistent discomfort and swelling
  • Pain or tenderness

What causes ankle instability?

Ankle instability usually occurs following an ankle sprain that has not been rehabilitated properly or healed optimally. When a patient sprains their ankle, the ligaments supporting the ankle joint are damaged and become slack. Such ligaments are responsible for maintaining balance and provide a sense of awareness of the foot in space (proprioception).

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As a result of damaged and loose ligaments, the patient’s ability to maintain the required stable foot position during walking is now impaired and are more susceptible to further ankle sprains. Unfortunately, a vicious cycle begins as recurring ankle sprains causes further damage of these ligaments resulting in even greater instability. Additionally a few people are born with multi-directional ankle laxity and these patients are also more vulnerable to ankle sprains. Chronic ankle instability that is left untreated can lead to continual pain, instability, arthritis and soft tissue problems.

How can Physiotherapy help?

Our qualified physiotherapists can help assist in the effective rehabilitation of patients with chronic ankle instability using a combination of manual therapy techniques. This includes:

  • A thorough assessment of the patient’s problem including identification and management of factors associated with injury such as foot posture, gluteal control and core stability.
  • Exercise prescription focusing on strengthening the ankle joint, improving balance and motor control, and increase flexibility and range of motion.
  • Taping, orthotics or bracing to provide additional support of the ankle joint to reduce further ankle sprains
  • Modalities such as TENS, IFC, ultrasound, heat and cold to reduce pain and decrease inflammation
  • Soft tissue massage for tight muscles
  • Provision of postural and ergonomic education and retraining

How can a PPS Physio help?

Your PPS Physiotherapist can help diagnose the problem and establish its severity. From this information an appropriate treatment plan can be made to get you back to full recovery as soon as possible.

This may involve activity modification, massage and mobilizations and other therapeutic agents to make you feel better. They will also tell determine and correct any biomechanical or postural issues that predispose you to injury.

Most importantly, your PPS Physiotherapist will provide you with specific stretches and an exercise program to prevent this issue from reoccurring when you return back sport.