Ankle Instability - when a sprain is more than a sprain...
The ankle joint is the most commonly sprained joint in the human body! Roughly one third of individuals who sustain an ankle sprain then go on to experience chronic ankle instability!
What is an ankle sprain?
The ankle, along with the knee and hip, is one of the large joints in the human body located in the lower limb. It is a synovial hinge joint which allows forward an backward movements, and is accompanied by joints in the foot to allow you to twist and turn.
In general, and when you break it down, it is quite a complex structure! Surrounded by a synovial capsule and exposed to various elements of weight bearing from different directions, the ankle is no stranger to musculoskeletal injury and disease. The soft tissues surrounding the joint include tendons and ligaments, which contain various nerve fibres, making it an important joint for balance, stability and lower limb strength.
A sprain is an injury to the ligaments, commonly on the outside surface of the ankle and can occur as a result of twisting and rolling the ankle joint.
The severity of an ankle sprain is graded, Grade 1 being mild stretching of the ligaments, and Grade 2 and 3 being a tear and a rupture to the ligaments respectively. The tissue healing process of these injuries can take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months, with come cases taking up to a year to fully recover.
When is an ankle sprain more than an ankle sprain?
Research has demonstrated that within 1 year, approximately 40% of lateral ankle sprains go on to have longer term chronic ankle instability! This can lead to and influence other conditions such as the development of ankle joint osteoarthritis and also lead to recurrent re-sprains of the same ligaments. Other problems that can occur include reduced range of movement at the ankle joint, ankle impingement and hip or knee pain.
A thorough musculoskeletal assessment and rehabilitation program is essential to reduce the risk of recurrent ankle sprains.
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