Ligament Damage Causing Ankle Instability
Do you roll your ankle when you turn a corner or when you step on uneven ground? Do you find yourself being more careful on one side than the other? Did you stop playing sports because of ankle pain? Do you no longer wear heels because it’s like walking on stilts?
No, you are not a klutz and you do not have “weak ankles.” You most likely have ankle instability.
Ankle instability usually results from injuries to the outside ligaments. Whether these ligaments are stretched from a remote injury (old ankle sprain) or from repetitive give-way episodes, they are no longer functional after injury. Thousands of people sustain ankle sprains each day. More than half will develop symptoms after “healing.”
Ankle Instability Treatments
Many doctors use temporary treatment methods such as:
- Ankle Braces
- Physical Therapy
- Proprioceptive Exercises
These provide only temporary relief. Another ankle injury or other ankle problems will almost certainly occur. Sometimes the ankle simply becomes painful. Nonsurgical strategies are rarely successful at keeping people at their top functioning level. Instead, many people give up the sports, shoes, and activities they enjoy. This is called taking a step-down and accomodating. Over the years, people take multiple steps down in activity and become a shadow of their former selves. Former Division I collegiate athletes lament not undergoing treatment of this condition while they were in their prime. Even some high-profile professional athletes do not get “expert” treatment and have chronic ankle pain that you can watch on TV every Sunday afternoon.
Thorough reviews of ankle sprains and ankle instability are available. Take a look at the following sites to learn more about some of the technical issues of ankle ligament damage and treatment:
In the long run, many patients will develop peroneal tendon overuse tearing. Other patients will develop focal cartilage injuries known as osteochondral defects. And some people go on to develop ankle joint arthritis. Anterior ankle spurs are a classic sign of this degeneration. Spurs are rarely a source of pain unless they impinge on one another. Simple spur fails to provide lasting or the best symptom relief. Find out more about peroneal tendon problems.
In a review of patients undergoing ankle replacement or ankle fusion, more than two-thirds cited ankle instability as the cause of their ankle pain. This problem is best treated surgically because nonsurgical treatment is rarely successful for the long term, and the resulting problems are often irreversible. The good news is that even some of these long-term conditions can be improved with ligament repairs.
In the 1970s and early 80s, the Brostrom-Gould anatomic ligament reconstruction was developed. Since then, no procedure has provided a better, simpler, more reliable reconstruction of the ankle. Across the country this procedure has greater than 95% success rate.
Minneapolis Ankle Surgeon
At Silverman Ankle & Foot, we have developed an Accelerated Rehabilitation Protocol. With the help of elite athletes (see this article from an Ironman triathlete patient), we have reduced the need for rigid casting beyond 2 weeks, and most patients are walking within 8-14 days after the surgery. The return to all regular activities is promoted in conjunction with an early physical therapy program. Many patients are back to playing their sports within 3 months of surgery. Read more about ankle ligament repair surgery.
People who undergo this surgery are incredibly happy because it allows them to return to their normal lives. An injured athlete can return to the sport they had to quit because of their injury. A woman can once again wear the high heels that were too painful to wear because of her injury. Don’t believe us? See what our satisfied patients had to say about their ankle treatment.
No matter what your problem, Dr. Silverman will work with you to provide the best individualized treatment. For a list of common orthopedic ankle and foot conditions click here.