What is Chronic Ankle Instability?
Chronic ankle instability is when the outer side of the ankle is “giving way.” This condition usually happens after repeated ankle sprains and injuries. Usually the “giving way” happens while walking or doing other activities, but it can also occur when standing. Many athletes suffer from chronic ankle instability.
Chronic ankle instability usually develops following an ankle sprain that has not yet healed or was not rehabilitated completely. When you sprain your ankle, the connective tissues (ligaments) are stretched or torn. Repeated ankle sprains often cause chronic ankle instability. Each sprain leads to more weakening (or stretching) of the ligaments, resulting in more instability.
Symptoms of Chronic Ankle Instability
- A repeated turning of the ankle on uneven surfaces or when playing sports
- Persistent discomfort and swelling of the ankle
- Pain or tenderness in the ankle
- The ankle feels wobbly or unstable
- The ability to balance is often affected
Diagnosis of Chronic Ankle InstabilityA foot and ankle doctor may ask you about any previous ankle injuries and instability. The foot and ankle doctor will examine your ankle to check for tender areas, signs of swelling, and instability of your ankle. X-rays or other imaging studies may be done.
Treatment for Chronic Ankle Instability
Different types of physical therapy and exercises can strengthen the ankle, improve balance, range of motion and retrain muscles. As you go through rehabilitation, you may also receive training that relates specifically to your activities or sport.
Some people wear an ankle brace to get extra support for the ankle and to keep the ankle from turning. Bracing also helps prevent additional ankle sprains. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, may be prescribed by a foot and ankle doctor to reduce pain and inflammation.
Surgical Treatment for Chronic Ankle Instability
Sometimes, a foot and ankle surgeon will recommend surgery based on how bad the ankle instability is. Surgery usually involves repair or reconstruction of the damaged ligament(s).
The foot and ankle surgeon will select the surgical procedure best suited for your injury. The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures. Remember, any type of foot or ankle pain is never normal. A foot and ankle doctor can examine your feet and give you the best course of action.
Please call (626) 447-2184 (Arcadia) or (818) 408-2800 (San Fernando) to speak to a foot and ankle specialist about your foot and/or ankle needs.