Many times, a patient, especially young athletes, feel that they don’t need to go to the doctor for their loose ankles because “there is nothing they can do.” Worse yet, some orthopaedic doctors, who are inexperienced with the ankle, tell them to ignore it or “just go to therapy.”
Nicholas T. Gates, MD, an orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist at OrthoCincy Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, who practices at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, has a clear message for people that regularly sprain their ankle—you don’t need to suffer.
What is Chronic Ankle Instability?
If you get repeated ankle sprains, there could be a bigger issue with your ankle. When you sprain your ankle, the ligaments on the outside of your ankle are stretched and likely torn, which affects your stability. The instability typically develops following an ankle sprain that has not healed or been rehabilitated fully and can affect your balance, strength and ability to return to sports or work.
When you first sprain your ankle, rehabilitation is needed to strengthen the muscles around the ankle and retrain the tissues within the ankle. It is then important to take preventative measures such as a brace or ankle taping to avoid a recurring sprain.
Chronic ankle instability occurs when your ankle:
- Repeatedly turns, especially on uneven surfaces or when participating in sports
- Persistently swells or catches
- Feels tender, painful or weak
- Feels wobbly or unstable
Unfortunately, if the ligament is too badly damaged, persistent pain and recurring sprains are common, which can lead to cartilage damage and even subsequent arthritis.
A Surgical Treatment for Chronic Ankle Sprains
After decades of working with athletes who suffered from chronic ankle instability, Dr. Gates knew there had to be a more impactful way to fix this problem. Working with sports surgeons from both the United States and Scotland, Dr. Gates and his colleagues developed the Internal Brace for Lateral Ankle Ligament Reconstruction, an innovative approach to treating chronic ankle instability.
The internal brace procedure eliminates the need for prolonged casting, crutches and immobility, which is typical in traditional ankle ligament repair. The procedure is done as an addition to the standard ankle repair procedure. During the procedure, a heavy band is anchored into the bone on the repaired ligament, allowing for internal protection of the repaired ankle ligaments.
Dr. Gates says, “When you suffer from repeated ankle sprains or pain, it can really impact your daily life.”
Through this outpatient procedure, the ligament stability is immediately restored, resulting in less pain and swelling. The internal brace greatly reduces recovery time so you can return to daily life, work and sports. Athletes can return to their sports in as little as eight to 10 weeks after the ligament reconstruction.
“I have performed over 200 of these procedures,” says Dr. Gates. “No one in the region, and very few in the country, have this kind of experience. I am proud to offer better, faster outcomes than the standard for ankle ligament reconstruction.”
If you are struggling with an ankle injury or repetitive ankle sprains, call 859-301-2663 (BONE) to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gates at OrthoCincy Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine to discuss if the Internal Brace can help get you back to your active lifestyle.