Despite a few misplaced snowflakes, spring is really here and that means lots of our patients at Paul S. DeMarco, DPM are lacing up their sneakers and heading outside. After months of irregular or no exercise, some muscle aches are to be expected but one area where pain is not normal is in your ankle. If you find that you are experiencing ankle pain and swelling during or after exercise you may have chronic ankle instability.
What is Chronic Ankle Instability?
In many cases, old ankle sprains or injuries from years ago that may not have been fully healed or rehabilitated come back to haunt us. While you may not notice any symptoms doing normal day to day activities, when you attempt to get in shape or increase your fitness level, problems may surface. Some warning signs of chronic ankle instability include:
- The feeling that your ankle is wobbly or going to give way
- Your ankle frequently “turns,” particularly if you are running or walking on an uneven surface or playing sports
- Persistent tenderness, pain and discomfort in the ankle
- Chronic swelling
What Can be Done?
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with our board certified foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Paul S. DeMarco, before continuing your exercise program. The podiatrist will want to know about past ankle injuries. He will then examine your ankle, looking for swelling and areas of tenderness. A digital x-ray (which can be done right in our Somers Point office) or other imaging studies may also be ordered to check for damage or improperly healed bones, muscles or ligaments.
Once the extent of your ankle instability is determined, the foot doctor will prescribe the right treatment for you. Options include: physical therapy, which can help strengthen muscles and also increase your balance and strength; bracing to give additional support to a weak ankle and medications to relieve inflammation and pain. If your chronic ankle instability does not improve with any of these techniques, the foot doctor may recommend surgery to repair or rebuild damaged ligaments.
Left untreated, chronic ankle instability will lead to repeated ankle sprains and increased disability. If your ankle is giving you discomfort, contact our Cape May County office at (609) 927-4894 and get your fitness plan back on track.