How to Keep a Sprained Ankle from Becoming Chronic Instability

Most people see an ankle sprain as a minor inconvenience. They might put ice on it, rest it for a few hours, or, especially in the case of athletes, just push through the pain and keep working. This is especially dangerous, as many don’t understand that a sprained ankle that’s not properly cared for can cause serious problems later on — one of them being chronic instability.

Chronic instability is a serious condition that causes your ankle to become wobbly, swollen, and unstable, even if you haven’t recently sprained it. It can be extremely uncomfortable and may even require surgery. The best thing for your ankle and the rest of your body is to avoid its occurrence at all costs. After all, you walk on your feet every day, and you don’t want to deal with problems associated with this condition for the rest of your life.

The team at One Oak Medical, located in New Jersey and New York, want to make sure you stay healthy after an ankle sprain. Here’s how to treat your sprain so you can avoid chronic instability.

#1 Do not keep playing on an ankle sprain

Most of us know an ankle sprain when we feel one, but in many cases, we might try to ignore it and play it off as less than it is. A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments that are meant to support the ankle are stretched too far and end up tearing. This is a serious issue, but people often continue to work, play, and walk on a sprained ankle like it’s nothing.

You should always rest a sprained ankle for at least 24 hours (usually longer). But if you are an athlete, this is especially important. It can be tempting to “walk off” an injury, but doing this is almost always dangerous. Especially with an ankle sprain, chronic issues can occur, leading to continual discomfort and unreliability in a joint you use constantly, every single day.

#2 Practice RICE

You remember RICE, don’t you? Rest, ice, compression, elevation. You probably learned it in elementary school. Still, we often ignore this treatment advice, use it in bits and pieces, or avoid doing it for as long as we should. 

RICE should be practiced for at least the first 24 to 72 hours after an ankle sprain, during which time you should test your ankle to see if the condition starts to improve over this period. In most cases, you should allow your ankle about a week or two to fully heal.

#3 Perform rehab exercises

You’re still going to want to rest, ice, compress, and elevate your ankle while you are recovering from an ankle sprain, but practicing rehab exercises is another great way to make sure you are taking care of your ankle, rebuilding your strength, and avoiding issues with chronic instability. You can visit us at One Oak Medical in order to learn more about some of the best exercises for a sprained ankle.

#4 Avoid further sprains

Ankle sprains are extremely common, but one of the best ways to keep chronic instability from occurring is to avoid further sprains in the future. That means, after you rest and rehabilitate your ankle, you might want to make some changes to your lifestyle. This can include wearing the right footwear, such as a hiking shoe instead of a biking shoe for long walks in the woods. You can also do exercises to improve your balance and others to strengthen the different muscles responsible for strong strides, such as your hips, legs, and core. Making sure you avoid spraining your ankle again is one of the best ways to maintain ankle stability over time. 

Treating your ankle sprain properly now could save you from a lifetime of issues. If you need help, come visit us at one of our six One Oak Medical offices. You can easily book an appointment online at either our Staten Island, New York office or at one of our convenient locations in New Jersey. 

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