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All about Ankle Instability
Ankle Instability

Chronic Ankle Instability

Ankle instability happens when the outside part of the ankle constantly "gives out" when putting weight it, especially when you're running or walking on uneven surfaces. It can even happen when you're standing. People with ankle instability often complain that the ankle feels wobbly or unstable. Because the condition is reoccurring, it is also known as chronic ankle instability.

Causes of Ankle Instability

Chronic ankle instability is usually caused by an ankle sprain that has not healed properly. During a sprain, the ligaments in your ankle may have been stretched or torn, and when they healed it resulted in weaker and "stretched out" ligaments. Individuals who participate in activities that involve the ankle, such as ballet and gymnastics, are at higher risk for chronic ankle instability. Those who suffer from repeated ankle sprains are also at risk for ankle instability.

Symptoms of Chronic Ankle Instability

Of course the most common symptom of ankle instability is the feeling of the ankle ready to give way. This may be heightened when walking on uneven ground or when wearing high heels. The instability may also be companied by pain on the outside of the ankle. Sometimes this pain is intense, and other times it may be a dull ache. Some patients also experience tenderness to the touch, stiffness, and swelling.

Treatment for Chronic Ankle Instability

As with any injury, your doctor will be the best source of advice on the appropriate treatment method for your situation. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin are often taken if the patient is experiencing pain, tenderness or swelling. Physical therapy is often used to help strengthen the muscles on the outer ankle, improve balance, and to restore range of motion.

Ankle braces that support weak ankles may also be recommended, such as the Aircast A60 or the DonJoy Stabilizing Ankle Brace. These can help steady your ankle as you walk and they may also prevent additional ankle sprains that lead to chronic ankle instability. In severe cases, a custom-made orthosis may be suggested.

If the above treatments do not work, your physician may suggest surgery to repair the damaged ligaments in your ankle. Surgery is usually a last resort for ankle instability, so contact your doctor to see which is the best treatment for your injury.