Chronic Ankle Instability
Chronic ankle instability is one of the most common conditions treated in our clinic.
It is caused by ligament laxity, weakness and a loss of motor control in the affected ankle following a number of recurring sprains over time. Chronic ankle instability can be characterised by either excessive movement of the ankle or by a sense of instability when trying to weight bear through the ankle. Often, patients with chronic ankle instability will feel as though the ankle is going to “give way” and sometimes the ankle will give way causing a sprain and leading to pain and discomfort.
It can be a very disabling condition for some people, leading to discomfort and fear when walking. This can cause people to avoid doing things they would normally enjoy, such as exercising, as they are in fear of injuring themselves further.
Around 20% of acute ankle injuries may develop into a chronic instability issue. The approach in treating chronic instability differs to that appropriate for an acute ankle injury where tissues need time to settle and heal if possible before targeted therapy is applied.
TREATMENT FOR ANKLE INSTABILITY
Fortunately, chronic ankle instability is a condition that responds well to physiotherapy treatment.
The chronic ankle has failed to gain back its integrity and therefore the approach to treatment can be more focused on strengthening and stability, while also working on any remaining restrictions of movement. Research shows that targeted exercise therapy in particular is highly successful in rehabilitating an unstable ankle.
Your physiotherapist will guide you in the development of a detailed and varied exercise programme. This will typically comprise of balance, strengthening and co-ordination based exercises, specific to you and your ankle. Your physiotherapist will also guide you through the progression of this programme, tailoring it to exactly what activity you are aiming to get back to, and setting specific goals along the way. The aim of physiotherapy in treating chronic ankle instability is to rehabilitate your ankle to a level where you feel ready and confident to take on those activities you enjoy independently.
Article by Danny Kelly, Physiotherapist