What is ankle instability?

Ankle instability is a condition whereby the ankle feels like it is constantly ‘giving way.’ It can occur when you are running, walking or standing.

Those suffering from the condition may experience pain, discomfort, tenderness and swelling. It is common for the ankle to turn inward and for the joint to feel unsteady when walking on uneven surfaces.

What are the causes?

Ankle instability regularly occurs as the result of a previous sprain not healing properly. When you sprain your ankle the ligament stretches and some of the fibres become torn; without the right treatment, you risk spraining your ankle again. A repeatedly sprained ankle will force the ligaments to become overstretched and weak, which will make the joint unstable.

How is it diagnosed?

An ankle examination will be carried out by your consultant, who will look for signs of instability and swelling. You may be required to have an x-ray, MRIor CT scan for further examination.

What is the treatment?

Your doctor may suggest physiotherapy for rehabilitation of the ankle. If so, you will be given exercises that will improve the balance and range of motion, retrain the muscles and strengthen the ankle.

Another option is to wear an ankle brace, which will stop the ankle from turning inward. The chance of further spraining is significantly reduced by wearing an ankle brace.

In more serious cases, you may be offered surgery, which will involve repairing or reconstructing the ligaments. What type of surgery you have will be based on your individual case.