Your ankle and foot are constantly in motion as you run, walk, or jump. Even while you're standing your ankles and feet bear your weight and are always shifting to help you maintain your balance as the upper portion of your body moves. As you age your musculoskeletal system undergoes many changes that can eventually cause the joints to weaken. With chronic ankle instability, the condition can worsen even more quickly if you have experienced repeated sprains and other types of ankle or foot injuries.
Characteristics of Chronic Ankle Instability
With chronic ankle instability, your ankles easily give way while you are walking or running. It can happen on flat ground or uneven terrain. It can sometimes occur while you are standing still. Chronic ankle instability is often described as a weakening of the ankle joint that allows the joint to turn or roll outward. The more the ankle gives way, the more persistent the pain and swelling that is associated with the condition. Each time the ankle gives way, the damage to the tendons and ligaments become more damaged. Over time, the muscles and connective tissue will lose the majority of their strength, causing the ankle to feel unstable and wobbly. If the ankle continues to give way, the pain and discomfort associated with the condition will eventually result in chronic pain that is present whether you are active or if you're resting.
Primary Causes of Chronic Ankle Instability
The aging process can gradually weaken bones, muscles, and connective tissues causing joints to give under pressure. Health conditions like degenerative bone disease and arthritis can also cause the joints to become increasingly weaker as time passes. For athletes and younger people who are physically active, the main cause of chronic ankle instability is often repeated injuries. Sprained or broken ankles can damage the connective tissues and bone to the point where they no longer function efficiently.
Each time a person receives an ankle injury, they should go through the necessary physical therapy or rehabilitation exercises to ensure the joint heals properly and regains any strength that may have been lost during the recovery period. If the ankle does not have a chance to heal as it should, you can expect it to weaken considerably over time and more injuries to occur. The goal of rehabilitation is to restore proper form and function to the joint, while physical therapy helps to strengthen and condition the joint.
How Is Chronic Ankle Instability Diagnosed?
In order for Dr. Fihman to properly diagnose your condition, she will first inquire about the severity of your pain and the different types of activity that causes your pain to worsen or your ankle to give out. A thorough examination of your ankle and foot will follow. Dr. Fihman will feel the bones and tissues, manipulating them to try and detect the presence of any tears or inflammation deep within the ankle. She will examine the ligaments by following them from their origin to their insertion to ensure they are attached with no significant damage. Range of motion exercises will also be performed to find out if the injury has affected your mobility and flexibility.
Because small tears and bone chips are undetectable through the use of manual manipulation and palpation, Dr. Fihman will often schedule an MRI so she can get a better look inside the joint. An MRI can identify damage that could otherwise go undetected. Digital imaging, like x-rays, can also be used to identify potential problems. A stress x-ray is beneficial because it gives us a detailed view of how the ankle moves. It can help to identify potential abnormalities that may be the result of torn or injured ligaments. She will use one or more of these tools to get to the root of your problem and create a personalized treatment plan that allows you to get back to your regular activities as soon as possible.
Possible Treatment Options
Chronic ankle instability can be treated in several different ways. Both surgical and non-surgical methods can be effectively used. Dr. Fihman will determine which type of treatment is most beneficial after she performs a thorough and detailed examination.
Non-surgical forms of treatment include physical therapy, bracing, and the use of anti-inflammatory medications to help control pain and swelling. Physical therapy is used strengthen and tone the muscles and restore circulation to the area. Braces are often worn during physical therapy, and sometimes, throughout the day, to provide the ankle with the support it needs during different types of exercise or activity. Taking a vitamin and mineral supplement can also help to speed up the healing process. When it comes to healing the bones and cartilage within the ankle or any other joint, it's important to have additional Vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium available to support the process.
Surgical treatment methods are only considered if non-surgical forms of treatment do not produce the desired result. Surgery is often recommended when tears to the ligaments and tendons are so severe that they will not heal properly enough on their own. Sutures can be used to secure the tendons and ligaments, allowing them to heal much faster. The brace or cast that is worn after surgery also helps to keep the ankle in the proper position throughout the healing process, ensuring that it mends naturally.
Can Chronic Ankle Instability Be Prevented?
Chronic ankle instability is often a common occurrence in people who already have some type of health condition that affects the bones, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, or degenerative bone disease. The most important thing you can do to prevent conditions like chronic ankle instability is to take of any injuries you receive. Make sure they are fully healed before returning to the gym or your sport of choice. If you are recovering from an injury, always follow Dr. Fihman's orders. Wear an appropriate brace that provides the support your ankle needs both on and off the playing field.
Eat a nutritious diet that contains the recommended daily allowances of Vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium. If you are past the age of 45 or 50, you may consider including a supplement that contains glucosamine and chondroitin. Both of which provide nutritional support for the joints that will help to speed up the healing process. Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. It's during sleep that your body rebuilds damaged tissues and strengthens muscles and connective tissues. Exercise regularly and wear the right type of shoes for the type of activity you are participating in. All of these things will work together to prevent further injury and instability of the ankles.
Why You Should See Dr. Fihman
Dr. Fihman has several years of experience in her field. She has state of the art diagnostic tools which she can bring to your location. Her concierge services ensure that you will get the treatment you need, even if you can't make it to her office. We offer a wide variety of services and treatment options that ensure the health of your feet and ankles are always in the best of hands.
Dr. Fihman has received intensive training that allows her to provide you with the highest quality of care. She is a highly skilled podiatric surgeon and has been educated in using many of the latest, technologically advanced procedures. Patients of Dr. Fihman return to her again and again because she understands their needs and strives to provide each patient with a customized treatment plan that allows them to live an active and healthy lifestyle while remaining as pain-free as possible. Her ultimate goal is to ensure each of her patients is fully satisfied with the care they receive. The doctor and her dedicated staff go to great lengths to ensure each patient who suffers from chronic ankle instability and other conditions that affect the feet, have everything they need to get back to a healthy and active lifestyle.
If you live in the Los Angeles area and are interested in learning more about Dr. Fihman and her concierge services, call or visit her office today. We have successfully treated many patients who have suffered from chronic ankle instability and other issues that affect the feet. You don't have to suffer through the pain and discomfort of foot and ankle injuries. Call our office today to have a thorough podiatric examination. She can evaluate the condition of your feet and ankles and create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your individual needs. If for any reason, you can't make your way to her office, she offers concierge services for many of her patients. She can bring along the equipment necessary to diagnose and treat almost any issue you may be experiencing. Don't wait! Call our office today!