In our practice we see many people with chronic ankle sprain reporting that surgery has been recommended as their only option. Why? Because chronic ankle instability is very common and unfortunately prone to re-injury or recurrent problems.

Chronic Ankle Instability

An estimated 40 percent of people who suffer from an ankle sprain will be left with long-term pain and weakness and up to 70 percent will eventually develop osteoarthritis. The reason is because the majority of ankle injuries do not heal properly after injury and respond poorly to the traditional methods of treatment.

There are three types of ankle sprain, separated into grades of severity. The first, a grade one sprain, is the least severe. This occurs when the ligaments are slightly stretched out, causing minimal tearing of the tissue fibers. This is the type of injury that doesn’t cause severe pain, and the victim can usually “walk it off” without permanent damage. A grade two sprain involves further tearing of the ligaments and can cause instability in the ankle joint. This type of sprain leads to a lot of swelling and tenderness, which makes it difficult to walk and move around. A grade three sprain is indicated by a complete tear of the ligaments, and will make itself known with extreme pain, swelling, and lack of function.

Sprinting and change of direction in chronic ankle instability

A May 2022 study (1) discussed rehabilitation programs: “Chronic ankle instability in athletic populations appears to be highly associated with declines in functional performance and to a somewhat lesser extent, ankle range of motion, strength and muscle endurance measures. This may suggest that optimal rehabilitation for athletes with Chronic ankle instability may require a greater focus on improving sprinting speed and change of direction ability in the mid to latter stages of rehabilitation, with regular assessments of these functional performance tests necessary to guide the progression and overload of this training.”

1 Jamsandekar MS, Patel VD, Prabhakar AJ, Eapen C, Keogh JW. Ability of functional performance assessments to discriminate athletes with and without chronic ankle instability: a case-control study. PeerJ. 2022 May 27;10:e13390.

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