Treating Ankle Instability
Ankle Stabilization options in Asheville
Most athletic men and women can recall at least one time they’ve sprained their ankle. For the majority of these individuals, their ankles heal well and they go on to enjoy full function in the joint. In some cases, however, the ligaments don’t heal optimally—they remain stretched out, causing the ankle to roll or “give out” on a regular basis.
Ankle instability can become a frustrating cycle for the patient—an unstable ankle is more susceptible to a sprain, which further weakens the ligaments, thus worsening the instability. As a result, patients may skip activities they enjoy for fear of re-injury. The good news is that chronic ankle instability can be treated with the help of an experienced foot and ankle specialist.
What causes ankle instability?
Ankle instability occurs when the lateral (outer) ligaments of the ankle are weakened or stretched out and can no longer keep your ankle stable during activity.
In most cases, ankle instability occurs either because the ligaments have not healed optimally after a sprain, or because they have weakened due to multiple sprains over time. In some cases, ankle instability can be caused by an anatomical defect in the ankle joint.
What are the symptoms of chronic ankle instability?
- Frequent pain, weakness or tenderness in the ankle joint
- A weak or wobbly feeling when you walk
- Difficulty performing lateral (side to side) movements without your ankle rolling
- Feeling like your ankle is about to give out when you walk or stand
How can ankle instability be improved?
In some cases, the ankle can be stabilized through non-surgical treatments, such as:
- Physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding tendons and muscles
- Taping during sports or exercise
- Wearing an ankle brace
These conservative treatments can be helpful for athletic patients with milder ankle instability, as well as for less active patients whose main objective is to walk more stably.
Surgery to correct ankle instability
Patients who do not respond well to non-surgical treatments, may need surgery to restore optimal stability to resume their desired activity level.
Our experienced orthopedic surgeons at Carolina Hand & Sports Medicine are highly experienced in helping patients regain strength and stability in their ankles, even after years of dealing with instability. Procedures available include:
- Anatomic ligament reconstruction. This procedure reconstructs a shorter, stronger lateral ligament by using tissue grafts, either from the patient’s own tissues or donor tissues.
- Ankle arthroscopy. Minimally-invasive surgery that tightens problematic ligaments using endoscopic instruments through several very small incisions.
Ligament reconstruction is typically performed as an outpatient procedure. Following surgery, your foot will be placed in a cast or splint, and you will need to walk using crutches for about 2 to 4 weeks. Recovery continues with physical therapy, and most patients resume their normal activity level about 12 weeks after surgery.
Suffering from ankle pain and instability? We can help.
You don’t have to let ankle instability keep you from doing activities you love. Our experienced orthopedic team at Carolina Hand & Sports Medicine can help you find the right treatment to regain strength and stability and move without pain. Call 828-253-7521 or contact us online today to schedule your appointment.