Chronic Ankle Instability (CAI)
Another lesser known dance and performing-arts related condition is called chronic ankle instability or CAI. CAI results from a history of ankle sprains that causes a cumulative over-stretching and re-injury of the ligaments around the ankle over time. When a ligament is sprained, the ligament itself does not heal as well as a muscle or bone does and the resulting scar tissue that’s laid down following injury has different stretch properties than the “native” tissue we’re all born with. This is a normal healing response, but because of this, if you sprain an ankle multiple times over the course of months or years, it can result in an ankle that subjectively feels less stable to the athlete or performer (as if it will give way on you at random) and upon evaluation will often exhibit balance, strength, and control challenges when put to the test.
In many cases, CAI is addressed very similarly to how a new ankle sprain would be addressed. Once pain is relatively well-managed, much of the rehabilitation process focuses on improving strength, balance, control and stability around the joint. Keep in mind this can take a lot longer to recover from compared to a simple ankle sprain and often requires long-standing commitment to a home exercise program or incorporation of rehab principles into the performer’s general conditioning or cross-training plan, in order to prevent future re-injury. Our dance and performing arts medicine specialists can create a custom rehab and preventative plan for your specific needs if you are suffering from chronic ankle sprains and instability.