Ankles are vulnerable. In Greek mythology, the only injury that could bring a hero to his knees was the Achilles tendon. Ankle pain can be caused by a number of factors, from tendonitis to bone fracture to bursitis to gout to rhematoid arthritis . . . . The only way to know for sure what’s causing ankle pain or instability speak with one of our foot and ankle specialist in Dallas, DeSoto or Sunnyvale and make an appointment to see the doctor. While ankle sprain is the number-one injury afflicting athletes, weak or wobbly ankles are also common among people who would never describe themselves as Greek warriors.
The ankle is a complicated structure, composed of bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles that are responsible for bearing the entire weight of your body. Little wonder that it’s prone to injury. Some people report feeling unsteady for their entire lives, starting as children. Research shows that ankle instability, if it’s not diagnosed and treated, often leads to more serious problems such as restrictions on mobility, arthritis or tendonitis.
Each ankle sprain worsens and increases your odds of sustaining a serious injury. By weakening and stretching the ligaments, a mild sprain sets you up for more painful and debilitating injuries. When it comes to ankle weeble-wobbles, best to nip it in the bud.
First the Cause, Then the Cure for Weak Ankles
Treatment depends on what’s causing the instability. If you can trace your weak ankles to a specific injury, we need to locate the source of the trauma. It could be a strained ligament, a fractured fibula or other type of injury to the muscles, ligaments, bones or tendons.
On the other hand, if there was no specific incident that triggered the problem, we may prescribe physical therapy or an ankle brace. Surgery is an option for repairing or reconstructing damaged ligaments.
Weak ankles are intrinsically related to balance. When you suffer a sprain, rehabilitation can help strengthen and retrain the nerves, muscles and ligaments that allow you to stand and walk. One school of thought maintains that ankles can be strengthened by practicing balance. Stand on one foot for one minute each day. If that’s impossible, start by having a wall at hand and hold your one-legged stork pose for a few seconds. Gradually build up to a longer time. When this becomes too easy, close your eyes and try it.
This self-administered therapy was designed by a doctor who wondered why the same patients suffered ankle injury after ankle injury. He devised a little experiment whereby he tested his patients’ balance, and observed that those who’d had a sprained ankle had poorer balance even after the ankle had healed.
Our clinical staff can demonstrate other exercises appropriate to your condition. (By the way, balance exercises are no substitute for diagnosing and treating an ankle injury!)
Some researchers believe that gait (the way your walk) is related to weak ankles. Certain sports lend themselves to ankle injuries. (Soccer is one.) Any game played on a field of uneven turf can increase the risk. Ill-fitting footwear is an accident waiting to happen.
If an Ankle Does Not Recover Spontaneously
Generally speaking, it’s not wise to try to live with the pain. Any ankle sprain increases the chances that you’ll reinjure or worsen the situation. If there is an underlying pathology or injury, it should be investigated.
Certain signs, such as severe pain; swelling around the ankle; an open wound or obvious deformity; signs of infection such as warmth or tenderness; or an inability to put any weight on the foot . . . Any of these signs should send you to the clinic without delay.
Even if the above signs are not present or you’re unsure whether your discomfort warrants a visit to the doctor, call the clinic if the ankle hasn’t improved in two days, or if you still have pain several weeks after an accident. Any of our locations in DeSoto, Dallas or Sunnyvale can set up an appointment with the doctor.
While ankles tend to feel the burn for several days after strenuous activity— such as running a marathon, or enduring a daylong hike— it’s wise to take a conservative approach. The old mantras— ‘I was born with weak ankles’ or ‘I’ll just walk the pain off’— may end up dramatically restricting your mobility.