Podiatrist Questions Ankle Injuries and Disorders

Why does my ankle sprain easily?

I have a tendency to fall and every time I do, I sprain my ankle. Why does this happen so easily?

11 Answers

If you have a history of ankle sprains in the past or multiple times per year, then you must do physical therapy to strengthen your lateral ankle joint ligament and gait training along with orthotic support, proper shoes. If you continue to have ankle sprains after the physical therapy and orthotic support, then you might need surgical intervention. Please go visit a foot and ankle surgeon for examination and treatment.
You most likely have a combination of ligamentous laxity and muscular weakness. Wear good shoes with ankle support and try to get a referral for physical therapy to strengthen the joint support.
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You most likely have lateral ankle instability. Meaning your lateral ankle ligaments are torn or stretched which causes a more likely hood of spraining your ankle. Could fix surgically.
There is an ankle instability issue that maybe underlying. A quick visit to a specialist would help diagnose the underlying etiology.
Frequent ankle sprains may be a result of stretching or even rupture of the lateral ankle ligaments. This can be diagnosed through MRI imaging and through a clinical exam by your Podiatrist. The more often you sprain the ankle, the less likely the ligaments are to return to their natural state of tension and support, and the more likely that they will eventually rupture. There are very good surgical procedures to help correct this problem, and the recovery is not too long. My patients who get lateral ankle stabilization procedures are usually very happy with the results and return to full activity without having more sprains and with a feeling of increased security and stability with activity.
Once you sprain your ankle, you are prone to repeat injury due to weakness of the ankle ligaments. I recommend you make an appointment to be evaluated by a Foot and Ankle Surgeon (Podiatrist) so a diagnosis can be made and the appropriate treatment can be started.
A few things:

1) Once an adult sprains the ankle, it is always going to be easier than "baseline" to re-sprain it. You MAY need to wear an ankle brace when you walk as a possible fall preventative.

2) Do you have a connective tissue disease associated with "loose or weak tendons" (Ehlers danlos, Marfans, etc.)? These are associated with ankle -- or other joint -- sprains and other problems (unlikely, but need to get a better history from you and ideally examine you for tendon laxity -- if you can make your thumb bend back to touch the forearm, you have "tendon laxity" -- and MAYBE a connective tissue problem like Marfans, etc.).

Now I DOUBT you have this problem -- as these diseases are NOT common -- and you probably would have had prior and/or other problems that brought you to the attention of a doctor, but as I don't know your history, it would be a "rule out."

3) You DEFINITELY need to find out WHY you are falling repeatedly! This is a potentially serious or even fatal problem (especially if you hit your head or break a hip).

COMMON reasons for repeated falling include:

1) Neurological problems: That could cause weakness, imbalance, or dizziness/vertigo, which could be centered in the brain (like an old stroke or a tumor), inner ear (like Menieres or other causes of vertigo) neck -- like spinal stenosis -- or spine, from arthritis and/or degenerative disc disease.
2) Orthostasis: Where your blood pressure drops upon standing (common in older people, especially if on a blood pressure medicine or diuretic).
3) Foot drop: If you tend to "stub" the involved foot when you walk (this could result from an old stroke, a spine problem, or nerve degeneration)
4) In older folks (I don't know your age), there may be more than just one underlying problem that results in repeated falling, so a complete history and physical exam is MANDATORY before you have a worse complication than just a sprained ankle!
If you have an injury to a ligament or tendon, such as an ankle sprain, you will weaken that part of your body. This will make you more prone to future injuries. That is the most likely explanation. Some people are born with a tendency to ligament and tendon injury but that is less common.
If you've had chronic ankle sprains, the ligaments become progressively weaker and the ankle becomes more unstable, increasing your chances of further ankle sprains. Physical therapy to strengthen the ankle is important along with bracing as a start.
Recurring ankle sprains may result from functional or structural dysfunction. Functional suggests that there is no significant structural weakness that permits the ankle to rotate excessively. It may result from weakened surrounding musculature particularly the peroneals when dealing with inversion sprains (most common when ankle roles out) or can also
suggest proprioceptive dysfunction. Nerve endings around our joints that allow us to appreciate spatial relationships of our anatomy and appropriately adjust if placed in awkward positions. Structural dysfunction results from true ligament disturbance by tear or attenuation or bony deformity that drives our ankle to rotate inappropriately. There are situations that ankle instability arises from both functional and structural deficits.
Once you suffer from an ankle injury, you are very susceptible to having another one and another one, especially if the area wasn’t treated 100%. You may need an MRI and X-rays to see extent damage in the ankle. Laser therapy, injections, bracing, casting, and PRP can all help the ankle. Why are you falling to begin with? That needs to be addressed first.