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Ankle Instability

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Foot & Ankle Conditions

Foot & Ankle Physicians

Joshua C. Luginbuhl
M.D.
Alan S. Tuckman
M.D.

Ankle instability, also called chronic ankle instability, is characterized by a frequent “giving way” or rolling of the ankle. It is generally caused by weakened ligaments surrounding the ankle bones and may be a direct result of one or more ankle sprains that did not heal properly.

Athletes are especially susceptible to chronic ankle instability, especially in tennis, basketball, soccer and football, but it can occur in non-athletes as well from stepping on an uneven surface or stepping down at an angle. The condition may occur repeatedly and is usually accompanied by chronic swelling, pain, and tenderness.

People who have ankle instability typically experience:

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

If you are experiencing repeated incidents where your ankle “gives way”, talk to the foot and ankle team at Lancaster Orthopedic Group about treatment options. Failure to treat the condition may put you at greater risk of arthritis, tendon problems, and more sprains from turning the ankle.

Treatment for ankle instability often involves physical therapy with strengthening exercises for the muscles and ligaments in the area. Anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed, and your doctor may recommend an ankle brace to provide support. If non-surgical treatments are unsuccessful, surgery may be required to repair ligaments damaged through repeated ankle sprains.

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