What is Ankle Instability?

Ankle instability is a condition characterized by a recurring feeling of instability or “giving way” of the ankle joint. Chronic ankle instability refers to a persistent or long-term issue with ankle stability, often resulting from repeated ankle sprains or injuries that have not healed properly.

Causes of Chronic Ankle Instability:

  1. Ankle Sprains: The most common cause of ankle instability is previous ankle sprains. When the ligaments around the ankle are stretched or torn during a sprain, they may not heal properly, leading to ongoing instability.
  2. Ligament Damage: Injuries that cause significant damage to the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint can result in reduced stability and recurrent episodes of instability.
  3. Ankle Fractures: Fractures of the ankle bones or damage to the bones’ supporting structures can contribute to chronic instability.
  4. Ankle Arthritis: Chronic ankle instability can also result from degenerative changes in the ankle joint, such as arthritis, which weaken the joint’s stability.

Symptoms of Chronic Ankle Instability:

  • Repeated episodes of the ankle “giving way” or feeling unstable
  • Swelling and tenderness around the ankle joint
  • Chronic or recurrent ankle pain
  • Difficulty walking on uneven surfaces or during sports activities
  • Weakness or feeling of the ankle being unable to support weight

Treatment of Chronic Ankle Instability:

  1. Conservative Treatment: Initially, conservative treatments are recommended, which may include rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), as well as physical therapy to strengthen the ankle and improve balance.
  2. Ankle Bracing or Taping: Wearing ankle braces or using athletic tape during physical activities can provide additional support and stability to the ankle.
  3. Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help reduce pain and inflammation in the ankle.
  4. Functional Rehabilitation: A structured rehabilitation program with exercises focused on strengthening the ankle and improving proprioception (awareness of joint position) can be beneficial.
  5. Ankle Stabilization Surgery: In cases of severe chronic ankle instability that does not respond to conservative treatments, surgical intervention may be considered. Surgery may involve repairing or reconstructing damaged ligaments or addressing structural issues contributing to instability.


  • Avoiding activities that exacerbate ankle instability, especially those involving quick changes in direction or high impact movements.
  • Engaging in regular ankle-strengthening exercises and balance training to improve joint stability.
  • Proper warm-up and cool-down routines before physical activities to reduce the risk of injury.

It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional, such as an orthopedic surgeon or a sports medicine specialist, for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan for chronic ankle instability. Early intervention and appropriate management can help improve ankle stability and reduce the risk of further injuries.