How to Prevent Chronic Instability After a Severe Ankle Sprain

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Life is full of mishaps — tumbling down the steps, tripping on toys, or landing on an opponent’s foot can happen to anyone. When it does, it can result in a sprained ankle. For some, it turns into chronic instability. Here’s how to avoid that.

An ankle sprain is one of the most common injuries worldwide. According to one report, over 2 million people end up in the emergency department due to a sprained ankle each year in the United States and United Kingdom.

Most people recover fully, but some develop chronic ankle instability, which keeps you sidelined and leaves you vulnerable to further injuries.

If you’ve suffered a sprained ankle and want to avoid chronic instability, don’t wait — seek medical attention and give yourself the advantage of professional care throughout the entire healing process. In Fort Worth, Texas, that means seeing Dr. Matthew Cerniglia at Ankle and Foot Institute of Texas.

Dr. Cerniglia is double-board certified in foot surgery and reconstructive rear-foot and ankle surgery; he’s one of the top 1% of specialists in this field. No one is better qualified to treat ankle pain and ensure that you sidestep chronic instability after a serious ankle sprain.

Understanding chronic instability

Your ankle joint has three bones — the tibia, fibula, and talus — bound together by several ligaments. Spraining your ankle stretches and tears the ligaments, usually the anterior talofibular ligament. If you injure these ligaments repeatedly or they fail to heal correctly, they may remain weak and unstable.

Chronic ankle instability makes it feel as though your ankle is about to give way. In essence, the ligaments and tendons stretch and loosen, your ankle becomes less stable, and your chances of re-injury increase.

If you don’t seek medical care for a severe ankle sprain, you risk developing chronic instability, and if you ignore chronic instability, you’re looking at potential long-term issues, such as chronic pain, arthritis, and even changes in your gait, which can affect your knees, hips, and back. 

Practical tips to prevent and manage chronic instability

Dr. Cerniglia treats your sprained ankle according to its severity and your activity level. You may benefit from a brace or crutches until it’s ready to bear weight. If your pain is intense, he might prescribe joint injections to reduce inflammation.

Some severely ruptured ligaments require surgery to ensure proper function in the future. If so, your ankle is in good hands with Dr. Cerniglia. From routine repairs to total ankle replacement, he has the extensive training and experience to get you back on your feet again.


Meanwhile, you can do your part by following a few simple rules post-ankle sprain.

Strengthen your ankle

Building strength in the muscles around your ankle stabilizes the joint and prevents re-injury. When you’re approved to do so, exercises like calf raises, ankle circles, and resistance-band workouts are excellent choices.

Stabilize your joint

Balance exercises like standing on one foot, using a balance board, or practicing yoga can improve your proprioception — your body’s ability to sense its position in space — and stabilize your ankle.

Choose the right shoes

Wearing shoes that provide proper support and fit well significantly reduces your risk of re-injury. Choose shoes with a wide base, good arch support, and a cushioned sole.

If you have a severely sprained ankle, don’t risk chronic instability. Request an appointment online or call Ankle and Foot Institute of Texas to learn more about preventing long-term instability.