Ankle Instability

Many times patients will come in our East Orange, NJ office complaining of chronic or frequent recurring pain in their ankles. This is often the result of an old, improperly treated, or neglected ankle sprain or injury. Once there is ligamentous damage around the ankle joint (most commonly on the outer side of the ankle joint, the side where the little toe is), the stabilizing function of the ligaments can be lost. When ligaments are torn, they never heal completely with the same normal strong tissue that was there originally.

Ankle instability can lead to the loss of mobility, strength, position sense, stability in single leg, detection of movement, functional ability, and reflex speed (how fast you can move). The lateral ankle sprains are the most ubiquitous injury of all ankle injuries. The #1 risk factor for an ankle instability/sprain is a history of a previous sprain/trauma. If ankle sprains or any kind of any pain has happened to you, you should contact Dr. Theall and Dr. Snell’s office and make an appointment. Although ligamentous sprain and/or rupture is most common type of ankle instability injury, several other associated injuries are frequently encountered.

Depending on the amount of damage to the ligament, a grade 1, 2, or 3 tear and the number ligaments involved in a previous injury, the person can develop varied forms of instability in that ankle. Factors that aggravate ankle instability are people who stand for long hours on their feet or do a lot standing and walking in their jobs.

Although the ankle ligaments are most frequently injured, several other locations should also be explored to exclude associated injury. There may be ankle compression which can also lead to injury. The fifth metatarsal may be fractured as a result of ankle instability. Pain between the fifth metatarsal lateral ankle could also be a symptom of fracture as a result of ankle instability. Posterior ankle pain and discomfort could also occur with injury from ankle instability.

Ankle instability can be easily helped with the proper shoe type and functional orthotics or AFO brace if necessary. There are multiple types of soft braces that are used as well if the person only has a problem when they are doing extreme activities, such as sports. An evaluation of ankle instability begins with a complete biomechanical examination of your foot and ankle structure and function. When necessary, additional diagnostic testing may be required for definitive diagnosis. MRI is especially useful in cases of suspected soft-tissue or ankle injury, X-rays, and ultrasounds, also help determine the amount of instability and damage that may be present.

Even if the ankle pain has been present for many years, it is often helped by several simple treatments that help restore function. It is often said that comfort varies directly with proper foot and ankle function and we can help you achieve that.

For more information, contact our East Orange office at 973-673-FOOT (3668).

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