Chronic ankle instability is a condition that occurs when the outer (lateral) side of the ankle repeatedly gives way. This condition most commonly occurs following an ankle sprain that has not properly healed or been rehabilitated. It can also occur in those who participate in activities that put stress on the ankle, such as athletes.
Symptoms of chronic ankle instability include repeated turning of the ankle, especially on uneven surfaces or during physical activities, persistent discomfort and swelling, pain or tenderness, and the ankle feeling unstable. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a foot and ankle doctor.
To diagnose chronic ankle instability, a foot and ankle surgeon will review your medical history and examine your ankle for any tender areas, swelling, or instability. Imaging studies, such as X-rays, may also be needed to further evaluate the ankle.
Non-surgical treatment options for chronic ankle instability include physical therapy, bracing, and medication. Physical therapy involves exercises to strengthen the muscles around the ankle, improve balance and range of motion, and retrain the tissues within the ankle that affect balance. Ankle braces can provide support and prevent further ankle sprains. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary if non-surgical treatments do not provide relief. Surgery involves repairing or reconstructing the damaged ligament(s) and is typically selected based on the severity of the instability and your activity level. Recovery time will vary depending on the procedure performed.
If you are experiencing chronic ankle instability, it is important to see a foot and ankle doctor, such as Dr. Gilbert Huang DPM. He can provide a proper diagnosis and help develop a treatment plan specific to your needs. Don’t let ankle instability hold you back from living an active life.