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The ankle, despite being one of the smaller joints, plays a crucial role as it bears the brunt of a person’s weight. Due to improper gait or injuries, the ankle often gets sprained. This can be a recurring problem in older people. Therefore, over a period of time, the ankle gets unstable and can cause chronic symptoms including pain, imbalance resulting in recurrent falls. Read on to know more about some causes, symptoms, and management techniques for ankle instability.
Causes: The ankle has ligaments which stretch to allow for ankle movement. When this ligament stretches beyond the limit, then it can tear or stretch. Therefore, sportspersons like basketball and football players, gymnasts who tend to use their ankle a lot are at a much higher risk of developing ankle instability over a period of time.
Symptoms: The most common symptom of ankle instability is when a person is unable to stand firm. This pain is worse in people wearing heels or walking on uneven ground. Patients may experience swelling, stiffness, and excruciating pain.
Management: Ankle instability is an acute problem but the recovery time is limited too, so the symptoms disappear over a period of time. However, in some people, especially sportspersons, it may lead to a chronic condition which needs immediate attention. Few remedies for getting relief from ankle pain are mentioned below:
- Ice: For pain relief, icing the ankle is an excellent option. Applying a cold pack for about 10 to 15 minutes about 2 to 4 times per day is an effective way to relieve the pain, stiffness, and swelling.
- Rest: Ligament injuries often heal on their own, and sportspersons may be advised to stay off of the game for about a week or two, to give it time for self-repair.
- Compresses: Using an elastic wrap or compression ice wrap for a few hours can help in relieving ankle instability.
- Pain killers: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can help in reducing both the inflammation and pain from the ankle injury.
- Exercise: Increasing the strength and flexibility of the ankle via exercise is a great way to reduce chances of further sprain. Rotating the ankles, standing on one leg, etc., are some effective ways to do this.
- Surgery: If none of the above-mentioned remedies work, a surgery may be required which is only in severe and/or chronic cases.
Ankle instability is quite common but is equally easy to manage.