A sprained ankle is a rather common injury, not only for athletes, but for the general population, as well. You miss a step, catch a crack in the sidewalk or have a shoe malfunction. Before you know it, you’ve rolled your ankle. You may stay off of it and practice the RICE steps (rest, ice, compress, elevate), but you’re soon back on your feet because it probably feels better and life demands it. However, new research shows that even though your ankle may be feeling better, it doesn’t mean it actually is better. The research indicates that someone who suffers even a single sprain is at a higher risk for developing chronic ankle instability (CAI), which can result in lifelong issues, including a decline in movement.
What Is chronic ankle instability (CAI)?
CAI is a condition in which the ankle gives way frequently, and often not with an obvious reason. CAI often leads to a loss of proper balance, and has long been thought to be a condition that was the result of a multiplicity of sprains, but these recent studies show that even a single sprain can be the perpetrator.
Ankle Study Shows Link
University of North Carolina kinesiology professor, Tricia Hubbard-Turner, participated in three studies which revealed some troubling news about the lifelong effects of sprained ankles. One of the first studies utilized 30 mice as specimens. They were split into three groups: the first had their ankles surgically sprained through the cutting of one ligament, the second group had two ligaments cut, as a model for a more severe sprain, and the final group received no surgery, serving as the control group. Mice who received any sort of sprain had a greater likelihood to slip and a greater propensity for decreased movement; the study concluded that 70% of all the mice who received sprains developed CAI symptoms within 12 months after the surgery.
The most recent study was conducted upon 40 college students, half with CAI and half with healthy ankles. The researchers tracked the students’ steps with pedometers. Results showed that those who were afflicted with CAI, took roughly 2,000 less steps a day. This means, should this model of declined activity continue, CAI could greatly impact the lives of the afflicted individuals. Decreased activity could potentially lead to obesity, heart problems and a slew of other serious medical issues.
Given the results of these studies, it is safe to say that a sprain should be examined by a professional, even if you don’t think it’s a big deal. Additionally, if you’ve had a sprain, you should have your ankle examined, so treatment options can be pursued if there is an issue. Don’t let CAI slow you down! The staff at the Foot and Ankle Center of Northern Colorado can help you get the treatment you need.