What is chronic ankle instability?
This condition is characterized by repetitive ankle- sprain injuries, frequent episodes of the ankle “giving way”, and decreased self- reported function stemming from an acute ankle sprain. Research has found that people with CAI have reported diminished health- related quality of life and are at great risk for developing post- traumatic ankle osteoarthritis.
The development of CAI is characterized by structural changes, sensorimotor deficits and altered movement patterns. It can present with joint restrictions, laxity of ligaments, joint degeneration and loss of strength. As you can tell the ankle sprain in not as an innocuous injury as you might have thought.
Patients with CAI exhibit deficits in:
Many researchers have found discrepancies in gait patterns of patients with CAI, as well as running and landing procedures due to modifications that took place and which may be related to an altered connection between the central nervous system and the injured muscle or nerves (or both) surrounding the ankle. For example, reduced ankle dorsiflexion (the ability to bring toes up) may predispose to re injury of the ankle and several future lower limb injuries including plantar fasciopathy, iliotibial band syndrome, patellofemoral pain syndrome, patellar tendinopathy and medial tibial stress syndrome.
The role of physiotherapy is important in cases of chronic ankle instability. The therapist will assess and recognize the impairments, the functional limitations and possible deficits and will help you develop the goals of the treatment and organize the treatment plan. Clinicians perform several therapeutic interventions, such as stretching, manual therapy/ mobilization techniques, electrotherapy, ultrasound and exercise to improve those limitations and promote better function.
It has been suggested by research that therapeutic exercises seem to improve functional components of the ankle joint while mobilization techniques mechanical components.