Ankle Instability

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-Jamie L.

What is ankle instability?

The ankle is made up of multiple bones, muscles and connective tissues (ligaments) that work together to provide stability and support and prevent excessive movements. When the ligaments supporting the sides of the ankle are injured, often from repeated ankle sprains, they are stretched out and weakened, which can cause ankle instability, a condition characterized by frequent “giving way” or a rolling of the ankle.


What causes ankle instability?

Twisted ankle - runner man with ankle instabilityAnkle instability, also referred to as chronic ankle instability, is caused by weakened ligaments surrounding the ankle bones. This is most often a direct result of one or more ankle sprain injuries that do not heal properly. With each sprain, the ligaments are further stretched and weakened, resulting in greater instability.

Ankle instability is particularly common among athletes. It can also result from a severe, non sports-related ankle sprain that may occur from stepping on an uneven surface or stepping down at an angle.


What are the symptoms of ankle instability?

If you have ankle instability, you will likely experience:

  • Pain or tenderness in the ankle
  • Discomfort or swelling
  • A repeated “giving way” of the ankle on the outer, or lateral, side
  • A general feeling of instability or wobbliness in the ankle, particularly when walking, running or when on uneven surfaces


What are the risk factors for ankle instability?

There are several factors that can increase your risk for ankle instability:

  • Sports involvement – participation in sports that involve running, jumping or quick starts and stops (e.g. tennis, basketball, soccer and football) increase the chances of ankle sprains and ankle instability
  • Prior ankle injuries – with each injury to the ankle that stretches and weakens the ligaments, you become more likely to develop ankle instability


What are the treatment options for ankle instability?

If you are experiencing pain or swelling in the ankle and repeated incidents where your ankle “gives way”, call our office at 212‑434‑4920 or fill out the schedule appointment form on this page so Stuart Katchis, M.D. can evaluate and treat your condition as soon as possible.

Most symptoms of ankle instability can be improved with nonsurgical treatments, but in severe cases, surgery may be recommended.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Nonsurgical treatment options may involve:

Taking anti-inflammatory medications

Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can considerably reduce pain. If necessary, Dr. Katchis may prescribe a stronger medication to help with inflammation and pain.

Physical therapy

Proper rehabilitation is often necessary to strengthen the muscles around the ankle and retrain the tissues within the ankle that affect balance.

Wearing an ankle brace

A brace can provide extra support and stabilization for an ankle with weakened ligaments. It can also prevent additional ankle sprains.

Surgical Treatment

In cases where ankle instability does not improve with nonsurgical treatments, Dr. Katchis may recommend surgery. The surgery for ankle instability involves either repairing or reconstructing the damaged ligament(s).


What does the recovery process entail?

Recovery times will vary depending on the severity of each patient’s condition. Whether you undergo nonsurgical or surgical treatment for your ankle instability, Stuart Katchis, M.D. will provide recommendations for long-term measures designed to improve your symptoms, such as physical therapy exercises and wearing an ankle brace, especially when doing sports and other activities.

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