Recurring ankle aprain – what to do?

Therapeutic Associates
a woman hiking in the cool PNW outdoors

Four years ago I sprained my ankle in a misstep off a riser. (My ankle turned inward.) Now I have rolled it 3 times in as many years, generally doing something that didn’t hurt at the time but later made my ankle feel as though it should pop. That was followed by gradually diminishing pain. What can I do to stop this from occurring? I’m female, 65, 5’1″,105 lbs. do a mix of Zumba, step and exercise 4 days a week. I also do quite a bit of hiking.

Disclaimer: Please note, this reply is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, physical therapist, or other qualified health provider with a medical condition.

Things to Know

  • Ankle sprains and reoccurring sprains are common presentations in our clinics.
  • Research has shown that control of the ankle is significantly altered following a sprain.
  • In physical therapy there would be a focus on optimizing the mobility, strength, balance, and stabilization throughout your leg.

Without performing a comprehensive examination, we are not able to comment on your specific condition. That being said, cases like the one you’ve provided are a common presentation in our clinics. 

Ankle sprains involve damage to ligaments that can range from tissue irritation up to a full thickness tear. Research has shown that control of the ankle is significantly altered following a sprain. One of the reasons this is thought to occur is due to a change or delay in the muscle activation which helps to stabilize the ankle and prevent sprains from occurring. These changes may significantly increase the risk of having multiple future sprains following just one ankle sprain.

For simple ankle sprains, activities involving balance are a great avenue to improve muscle activation and stabilization throughout the injured lower extremity. This can range from standing on one foot to more advanced activities involving unsteady surfaces – always ensuring hands are near something stable to prevent falls. 

Given your history above, a referral for physical therapy would be warranted to ensure you are able to continue to enjoy an active lifestyle. Often times, in physical therapy there would be a focus on optimizing the mobility, strength, balance, and stabilization throughout your leg to maximize your safety and ability to continue doing the things you love!

We’ve included some additional resources below and would advise you set up an appointment at one of our clinics. 

person holds ankle after falling and potentially spraining ankle

Sprained Ankle? What You Need to Know.

Our ankles and feet are often undertrained and neglected parts of our bodies, so it’s not surprising that ankle sprains are, unfortunately, a common injury. If you think you sprained your ankle, a physical therapist can help.

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Injury Prevention

Most injuries come from a combination of our genetic blue print and the physical environment we live, work, and play in. Even the seemingly straight-forward

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Ankle pain or injury? Try PT!

To speed up the recovery period after an ankle injury, seek care from your local physical therapist.

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