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Ankle Instability

If you frequently experience the sensation that your ankle will "give out," then you may have ankle instability.

Chronic ankle instability usually develops following an ankle sprain that has not adequately healed or was not rehabilitated completely.

This condition is characterized by a recurring "giving way" of the outer (lateral) side of the ankle. It often develops after repeated ankle sprains. You will most likely experience your ankle giving out while walking or doing other activities, but it can also happen when you're just standing.

You're not alone. Many athletes, as well as others, suffer from chronic ankle instability. Symptoms include:

  • A repeated turning of the ankle, especially on uneven surfaces or when participating in sports
  • Persistent (chronic) discomfort and swelling
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Feeling like the ankle will 'give out'

Treating the Condition

Treatment for chronic ankle instability is based on the results of the examination and tests, as well as on the your level of activity.

Non-surgical treatment may include:

  • Physical therapy. Exercises to strengthen the ankle, improve balance and range of motion, and retrain your muscles.
  • Bracing. An ankle brace provides extra support for the ankle and also helps prevent additional ankle sprains.
  • Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.

Based on the degree of instability or lack of response to non-surgical approaches, a surgical treatment may be recommended.

Ankle instability does not have to be the end of your mobility. With the right treatment, proper footwear and braces, and focused rehabilitation, you can eliminate the sensation of your ankle giving out.

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