Ankle Instability: Causes, Diagnosis, & Treatment

What is Ankle Instability?

A recurring condition in which the outer part of the ankle constantly relinquishes out is known as ankle instability. It can happen during running, walking, standing and sometimes usually on the uneven surface. Generally, in the ankle instability, people feel that their ankle is unstable or wobbly, Since the condition is reoccurring it is also called chronic ankle instability; People with chronic ankle instability often complain about persistent swelling, discomfort, and pain in the ankle and an unstable ankle.

Cause of Ankle Instability

The main reason that causes Ankle Instability is when the previously sprained ankle doesn't get healed completely. It usually develops after a single or multiple sprains in the ankle. In an ankle sprain, the ligament in the ankle is torn out or stretched too much; every ankle affects the ankle further. To restore the strength of the muscles in the ankle, Proper Rehabilitation is required. In the case of improper rehabilitation, people may suffer from ankle instability.

Symptoms of Ankle Instability

If you notice these symptoms, you are more likely to have Ankle Instability:

  • Your Ankle gets turned quite easily while walking and running even on a smooth surface.
  • You have repeated persistent swelling or pain in your ankle.
  • The area around the ankle feels softer than usual, and it has become tender.
  • The ankle moves quite rapidly even without putting much effort.

Diagnosis of Ankle Instability

The doctor asks for previous ankle injuries and sprains, which are followed by an examination of tender, swollen, and weak areas in the ankle. Generally followed by an X-ray examination or MRI Scan to study the ankle properly.

Basic Treatment of Ankle Instability

To treat usual ankle instability at home, R.I.C.E. is highly recommended

R.I.C.E. stands for,

  • Rest: Taking rest can help restore the torn ligaments in the ankle. It gives time to the muscle and tissue to recover, heal, and start functioning again normally.
  • Ice: Applying cold therapy to a sprained ankle for 10 minutes 2 to 3 times a day can help reduce the swelling and pain.
  • Compress: wrapping an elastic wrap or a compression ice wrap (which does both compress and icing) is effectively helpful.
  • Elevate: Elevating the leg 6 to 10 inches above the heart, this can be done using a sling.

Non-surgical treatment applied to cure Ankle Instability

Ankle instability is treated on the type of injury, test results as well as on the kind of activities the individual does. Nonsurgical treatment includes:

  • Physical therapy - Various exercises strengthen the muscles, improve balance, retain the range of motion.
  • Braces: They are used to provide support to the ankle, keep it from turning and prevent additional sprains.
  • Medications: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are prescribed to reduce pain and swelling.

Surgical treatment

Based on the degree of ankle instability and lack of response to the non-surgical approaches, a doctor recommends surgery. Surgery involves a reconstruction of the damaged tissues and ligaments in the ankle. The surgical procedure will be selected based on the severity of the condition and activities carried out by the individual. The length of the recovery period taken to heal the ankle will vary according to the procedure or procedures performed by the doctor.


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