What is Chronic Ankle Instability?

Ankle instability is the feeling patients experience of continued lack of stability or confidence in the ankle. It may present itself as a recurrent feeling that the ankle is giving way, or as recurrent ankle sprains, and has become a long-standing problem not improved by conservative treatment such as physical therapy or bracing. The instability may occur during sporting activities but may also take place during every day activities without any specific trauma, such as walking on uneven surfaces. Long-term instability has also been theorized to possibly lead to arthritis of the ankle joint. This is secondary to the recurrent damage to the ankle and joint surfaces with each sprain and to the cumulative wear of the ankle caused by lack of restraint of the ankle joint, which allows irregular rubbing of the cartilage surfaces.

Chronic Ankle Instability Treatment

For these reasons, when conservative treatment has failed, reconstructing the ankle ligaments may become necessary, which is accomplished by tightening ligaments back to the bone. Some of the surrounding tissue is often used to reinforce the repair as well. The majority of patients who suffer from chronic ankle instability require this type of procedure to improve their symptoms and restore stability. The procedure has the advantage of maintaining the normal anatomy and structures of the ankle and surrounding tissues.

Chronic Ankle Instability Recovery Time

When ligaments are deemed irreparable, usually from being severely stretched, other tissue is necessary to reconstruct the ligaments of the ankle. Sometimes additional bone correction is required for patients with abnormal bone alignment of the heel. These procedures generally involve non-weight-bearing recovery for two weeks followed by six weeks of protected weight-bearing in a boot, with a transition to regular shoes when possible. Return to sport is individualized based upon level and type of activity but can generally be expected to occur around four to six months after surgery.

Schedule an Appointment to Treat Your Chronic Ankle Instability in Chicagoland

Dr. Vora has a special interest in these ankle ligament reconstruction techniques. He is currently investigating a minimally-invasive reconstructive technique using specialized tissue grafts taken from the knee region for select patients and for patients that have failed previous surgical reconstructions of the ankle. In addition, Dr. Vora utilizes arthroscopy, where small incisions are made in the ankle to evaluate the cartilage surface and to treat all associated injuries when reconstructing the ligaments, and is evaluating the efficacy of such treatments in improving outcomes. Call 847-247-4000 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment with Dr. Vora if you’re experiencing symptoms of ankle instability.

For more on this condition, also see:
Arthroscopy of the foot and ankle