Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Ankle FAQ

Question:

We just found out why our son has sprained his ankle so many times. The doctor suggested all that jumping and landing has damaged his balance mechanism in the ear. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Answer:

In 1994 a study of 30 high school athletes involved in high-impact aerobics was published with this very idea. The inner ear is a vital part of our balance.

Tiny hairs inside the fluid-filled cochlea sense a change in movement or direction of the fluid. They signal these changes to the brain and the body adapts in response to the information. In this way we keep our body upright during all kinds of changes in our own body position or changes in our surroundings.

It was suggested that repeated, jarring motion could damage the delicate vestibular system. Running up and down a basketball court and jumping and landing are just two examples of the kinds of activity that could cause this to happen. These actions occur 100s of times during practices and games.

There may be a connection between vestibular malfunction and ankle sprains. More study is needed before the full impact of this finding is known.

Amy S. N. Fu, PhD, and Christina W. Y. Hui-Chan, PhD. Ankle Joint Proprioception and Postural Control in Basketball Players. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. August 2005. Vol. 33. No. 8. Pp. 1174-1182.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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