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Ankle Instability

What is chronic ankle instability?

Chronic ankle instability is a condition in which the ankle feels unstable and constantly “rolls” or “gives out”. It occurs while standing, walking or running. Chronic ankle instability is typically the result of an ankle sprain that does not heal or repeated ankle sprains.

What causes ankle instability?

Chronic ankle instability results from an ankle sprain that does not properly heal. This leads to torn or stretched ligaments and a loss of balance.

What are the symptoms of ankle instability?

The most common symptom of chronic ankle instability is an unstable or “wobbly” feeling in your ankle. The ankle may repeatedly turn or roll while walking on uneven surfaces or playing sports. There may also be discomfort, pain, tenderness and swelling in the ankle.

How is ankle instability diagnosed?

Chronic ankle instability is diagnosed with a medical history, thorough physical examination, and with X-rays. Other imaging studies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be ordered.

How is ankle instability treated?

Nonsurgical treatment

Most cases of chronic ankle instability can be treated conservatively. Treatment is aimed at improving strength, balance, and range of motion while limiting further sprains. This consists of physical therapy, ankle bracing, and anti-inflammatory medications.

Operative treatment

In cases of severe instability and failure of conservative treatment, surgery may be recommended. Surgery involves repairing or reconstructing the damaged ligaments of the ankle joint.