Ankle instability is a recurring or chronic pain on the outside of the ankle that develops after trauma such as an ankle sprain. Several other conditions, however, may also cause ankle pain.

What is chronic ankle instability?

Ankle Pain

Are you experiencing pain in your ankle that affects your daily activities? Do you ever have a dull ache on the outside of your ankle? Do you ever feel like your ankles are weak? If so, you may be suffering from chronic ankle instability.

What is chronic ankle instability?

Ankle instability is a recurring or chronic pain on the outside of the ankle that develops after trauma such as an ankle sprain. Several other conditions, however, may also cause ankle pain.

What are the symptoms of chronic ankle instability?

  • Pain – usually on the outside of the ankle 
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling – can be constant or sometimes come and go
  • Tenderness around the ankle
  • Repeated ankle sprains or sensation of your ankle giving out

What causes ankle instability?

The most common cause of ankle instability is incomplete healing after the foot rolls under the ankle during an ankle sprain. This causes the soft tissue between the bones to become over stretched or torn. Without complete rehabilitation, the ligaments and surrounding tissue will remain weak. As a result, you may experience additional injuries. Other causes of chronic ankle pain include:

  • Arthritis of the ankle joint and/or surrounding joints
  • An injury to the nerves that pass through the ankle
  • Torn or inflamed tendons
  • A fracture
  • Scar tissue

How is chronic ankle instability diagnosed?

The first step is seeing a podiatric foot and ankle specialist. There are many potential causes of ankle pain and your doctor will often order X-rays and/or a MRI to better evaluate your ankle. A detailed and thorough physical examination will occur.

What are treatment options?

Treatment will be personalized to your individual needs. Your podiatrist will determine if nonsurgical or surgical treatment is necessary.

Nonsurgical treatments include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Physical therapy
  • Bracing
  • In the case of fracture, immobilization

Surgical treatments include:

  • Removing loose fragments
  • Cleaning the joint surface
  • Repairing or tightening the ligaments around the ankle joint

And, if surgery is necessary, it is often done through small incisions allowing you to go home the same day.