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4 Steps That Prevent Chronic Instability in a Sprained Ankle

4 Steps That Prevent Chronic Instability in a Sprained Ankle

Ankle sprains are common. So common that you might be tempted to brush yours off and just grin and bear it as it heals. However, once you sprain your ankle, you’re at risk for chronic ankle instability.

If you have a sprained ankle, the ligaments in your ankle are stretched, torn, or ruptured, which leads to swelling, pain, bruising, and problems walking. 

If the ligaments don’t heal correctly, they can’t hold your ankle joint in place and may also limit your range of motion. When this occurs, you can easily reinjure your ankle.

At Active Rehab Clinics in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago and in Park Ridge, Illinois, expert chiropractor Tony Zemlinsky, DC, and our team urge you to take your ankle sprain seriously. 

A poorly healed ankle does more than increase your risk for further ankle injuries; it throws off the alignment and functioning of your entire body.

If you want your steps to be stable and pain-free, take the following four steps as soon as you sprain your ankle:

Step 1: Use the RICE method

To protect your ligaments from further damage and to reduce swelling as quickly as possible, we recommend the RICE method. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation:


Rest your ankle as much as possible for the first 24-48 hours following your injury. You may need crutches or another assistive device to keep the weight off your foot.


Apply a wrapped ice pack to the injured area for 15-20 minutes, 3-5 times a day. Be sure you never place the ice or ice pack directly on your skin.


Compressing your ankle helps reduce swelling and stabilizes your ankle. You can find elastic wraps, such as bandages and ankle sleeves, at your drug store. 


Raise your foot to lessen swelling and allow fluid to drain from the area. Prop your foot up on a footstool when you sit in a chair or sofa. Put a pillow under your foot when you’re in bed. To reduce pain and discomfort, we advise taking nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.

Step 2: See your chiropractor

Make an appointment with your chiropractor as soon as you sprain your ankle. The longer you wait, the more your condition may deteriorate, especially if you have swelling, numbness, or severe pain, or you can’t bear weight on the ankle. 

During your consultation, we evaluate your ankle and foot to determine which ligaments you injured and how severely. We use state-of-the-art diagnostic technology, including:

We also examine the rest of your body to determine if spinal misalignments contributed to your ankle sprain. 

After we collect and evaluate all of the data, we diagnose your ankle sprain and develop a personalized treatment plan. Its aim is to restore your ankle’s normal range of motion and strengthen its supporting muscles and ligaments.

Step 3: Strengthen and support

Our goal is to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible and prevent future injuries. Our rehabilitation techniques often combine therapies, including physical therapy, bracing, and functional medicine techniques.

Physical therapy

We give you ankle-strengthening exercises that retrain your muscles, restore your range of motion, and improve your balance. Some of our specialized training programs are based on activities or sports you already enjoy.


Some ankle injuries may require a brace to provide support. Not only can braces keep your ankle ligaments from moving as they heal, they can also prevent future ankle sprains.


We may recommend Plantiga AI orthotics, which are custom-made shoe inserts, to correct gait abnormalities that could raise your risk of reinjury. 

Step 4: Be patient

Ankle sprains take time to heal. If you have a mild sprain, you may respond to treatment and rehabilitation in four weeks or less. Severe injuries, however, may take several months to fully heal.

Despite the length of your recovery, do your best to follow your rehabilitation plan. Following and sticking to these four steps helps you recover as quickly as possible and reduces your chances of reinjuring your ankle.

If you have a sprained ankle or ankle instability, contact our office nearest you today so we can give you relief and reduce the risk of future injuries. Phone us directly or send us a message online

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