Why Do You Keep Rolling Your Ankle? Understanding Chronic Ankle Instability

If your ankles keep rolling or you feel unstable on your feet, you may have chronic ankle instability. People with this condition are prone to ankle sprains, persistent swelling, and ankle pain. Take a look at why you might have this problem and how a podiatrist can help.

What Causes It?

If you sprained your ankle in the past, the ligaments that support your ankle may have not healed correctly and are still torn or overstretched. About 20% of people with acute ankle sprains can develop instability. Ideally, after a sprain, the ligaments should be properly rehabilitated with physical therapy and bracing.

Even if you haven't had a sprain, you can still develop chronic ankle instability. For example, certain athletes, like dancers, basketball players, or volleyball players, jump a lot in their activities and can have natural wear and tear on their ankle ligaments. Poor form (e.g. hyperpronation) during activities like running could increase your risk of instability.

Your genetics can also play a role, as people with naturally low arches or flat feet can be prone to ankle instability. If you are overweight or obese, you can also be prone to ankle instability, as extra weight can affect ankle stability.

How Can a Podiatrist Help?

A podiatrist can set you up with an ankle brace to prevent ankle rolling. Bracing can also encourage the ligaments to heal properly so that you won't have to deal with instability in the long term. If your ankle instability is caused by a genetic issue, such as flat feet, your podiatrist may recommend customized orthotics for your shoes.

Your podiatrist may also refer you to a physical therapist if your condition needs rehabilitation after bracing. If your instability is exacerbated by certain sports, you may need to take a break to heal or work with your physical therapist on your form.

A podiatrist can also confirm whether or not the instability has caused other issues. For instance, if you roll your foot occasionally but your main symptom is pain, you may have developed ankle impingement, where soft tissue is actually getting caught on ankle bones. To treat this problem, your podiatrist can prescribe extra-strength anti-inflammatories or even provide a cortisone injection. Once you have the right orthotics and your ankle is braced, you shouldn't experience instability or impingement.

If conservative treatments like bracing and anti-inflammatories aren't working, then you may want to proceed with surgery. During surgery, a foot specialist will repair injured ligaments by grafting healthy tissue to the area.

For more information about chronic ankle instability or foot and ankle care, reach out to a podiatrist in your area today.