How to Keep a Sprained Ankle From Becoming Chronic Instability

From athletic injuries to clumsy falls off the curb, many everyday activities can lead to a sprained ankle. And the severity can range from grade 1 (stretched ligaments) to grade 2 (stretched and partially torn ligaments) to grade 3 (severed ligaments). They all involve pain and swelling, but some might take longer to recover from than others. 

Here at Dan Preece, DPM, and Darren Groberg, DPM, a branch of Utah Musculoskeletal Specialists in Salt Lake City, recovery is one of the things we do best. We use the latest technology and techniques to diagnose your sprained ankle and develop a personalized treatment plan that gets you out of pain and back on your feet as soon as possible. 

But speed of recovery isn’t our only concern, and it shouldn’t be yours either. More important than how quickly you recover is how thoroughly you recover. That’s because sprained ankles that aren’t rehabilited properly can be a chronic source of instability for years to come.

Why rehabilitation is so important

More than 25,000 people a day sprain an ankle, and more than a million Americans end up in the emergency room every year because of an ankle injury. The reason ankle injuries are so common is that there are many moving parts in this joint that’s charged with keeping you upright and mobile. 

Your ankle is the hub where your tibia and fibula (the lower bones in your leg) meet your talus (the upper part of your foot). They’re all held together by ligaments, muscles, and tendons so that you can squat, jump, walk, run, and stand — what could go wrong?

Plenty can go wrong. You can overstretch a muscle (strained ankle), break a bone (fracture), or stretch or tear a ligament (sprained ankle).

Severe sprains can make it difficult or impossible to stand or walk, so you need to spend some time staying off of it for a while until it heals. And while most sprains heal on their own over time, you may have lifelong pain and instability if you don’t add rehabilitation to the healing process.

Steps to take to ensure ankle stability

Proper healing of your sprained ankle occurs in stages and depends on the severity of your injury. Once our team of podiatric experts evaluates your ankle, we develop a customized treatment plan and schedule based on your symptoms, age, overall health, and usual activities. 

We typically begin with a round of RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). This treatment phase gives your body time to begin the natural healing process on its own. It also begins to reduce inflammation that can perpetuate pain and hinder your progress if allowed to go on too long.

After some time has passed (it differs with every injury and every person), our team schedules you for physical therapy sessions. This is the part that many people neglect, especially if they’ve chosen not to see a health care professional after their sprain. But this is a critical step if you want to have a stable ankle for the rest of your life. We guide you through targeted stretches and exercises that help you regain function and mobility now and in the future.

Next, we use Multiwave Locked System® (MLS) Laser Therapy to significantly reduce your pain and speed up healing. By synchronizing two wavelengths with a continuous pulsing action, MLS laser therapy delivers more pain relief and reduces swelling more quickly than older technologies, so you can participate more effectively in your physical therapy and rehab efforts. The result is a more complete and lasting recovery.

Don’t walk around with a wobbly ankle. Come in and see us as soon as possible after you’ve sprained your ankle so we can provide treatment to stabilize your ankle and your life. Call us at 801-285-6332 or request an appointment online.

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