Chronic Ankle Instability

Ankle Weakness/Instability

Chronic ankle instability is often characterized by the ankle “giving way” or weakening.  Often times, such instability is the result of an ankle sprain that has not been allowed to fully heal.  The instability can progress when an already weakened ankle is repeatedly injured, thus damaging the ligaments even more.  People with chronic ankle instability complain of turning their ankle on uneven surfaces or while participating in sports.  In addition, they can feel chronic discomfort and tenderness and experience swelling.

What Causes Chronic Ankle Instability
When you sprain your ankle, the ligaments can be stretched or torn.  Ligaments are the bands of tissue that connect one bone to another and bind the joints together.  They also provide stability to the foot by limiting side-to-side movement.  When the ligaments are damaged the ankle becomes unstable and susceptible to further injury if not treated and given time to heal.  Repeated sprains cause and perpetuate chronic ankle instability.

Treatment Options
Initial treatment will often involve anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and swelling.  Immobilization with an ankle brace will give support for the ankle and help prevent additional injury.  Physical therapy will often be in the course of treatment for chronic ankle instability.  Physical therapy will improve the range of motion, improve balance, and strengthen the ankle.
In some cases these initial treatments will not produce desired results and the podiatric physician may recommend surgery.  Surgical options mainly involve repair or reconstruction of the damaged ligaments.  However, other procedures may be necessary depending on the severity of the patient’s condition.