Weak ankles or medically known as “lateral ankle instability” is a condition described by a “giving way “of the outside of the ankle. This can develop after repeated ankle sprains. A condition known as ligamentous laxity can also cause an ankle to turn over.
Turning your ankle usually occurs while walking or running, but can also happen while just standing.
Patients with chronic ankle instability usually have the following complaints:
- Repeated turning of ankles when playing sports or walking on uneven surfaces;
- Chronic swelling or pain on the outside of the ankle;
- And a deep pain when walking on uneven surfaces for an extended period of time.
This chronic instability is caused by ankle injuries that were never treated or inappropriately dealt with. When you sprain your ankle, the ligaments that hold the bones together tear. Once torn, they need to be placed in their normal or anatomical position. If they are not, they will reunite, but with a large amount of scar tissue instead of original ligament. This extended or longer ligament doesn’t support the ankle as well as the original tissue. The next time you go on uneven surfaces the ankle is even more unstable. This process continues over time.
Although most people that sprain their ankles don’t develop instability, this information is for the patient that has ankle instability. When left untreated one can develop more problems which includes arthritis, tendinitis and painful deformity. If you are having problems you should see a foot and ankle specialist for an evaluation. Most times a diagnostic test can be ordered to see the condition of the ligaments. X-rays, MRI,s or CT scans can help with the decision of treatments.
Treatments may include physical therapy for strengthening the muscles that move the ankle. A variety of ankle braces are available to help support a weak ankle that continues with pain after failing treatments. Cortisone injections and anti-inflammatory medications are helpful to reduce pain. Different shoes and orthotics may help decrease the rolling ankles.
Surgical options include repair of the ligaments. This requires 4 weeks of casting followed by 2-4 weeks of bracing and physical therapy.
Dr. Pizzano highlighted some great points in a recent article titled Weakness In This Muscle Contributes To Ankle Sprains In Athletes. Feel free to dive a little deeper there.