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Ankle Instability

    The ankle is made up of two joints. These joints need to be strong because they support the weight of the entire body. The ankle is one of the most versatile joint complexes in the body. It is built for weight bearing, mobility, adaptability, and stability. The foot and ankle allow us to walk, stand, run and jump, and serve as our connection to the ground. The ankle must be able to withstand the stress of our body weight and also be able to adapt to and react quickly to changes in the environment and walking surface.

    I have been under the care Dr. Eric Freeman for nearly 20 years. A consumate professional, a kind caring doctor that listens with a wonderful bedside manner. Most of all an absolute genius at administering pain management treatments.


    Ankle Ligaments

    The ankle joint and subtalar joint are held together by ligaments, which connect bone to bone. There are three major ligaments on the lateral (outside) aspect of the ankle. The inside (medial) aspect of the ankle has a complex of several ligaments. These structures provide stability and flexibility to the ankle.

    Ankle Instability

    There are different degrees of instability of the ankle. Instability is typically characterized as the feeling of the ankle joint “giving out” and is generally caused by damage to the ligaments in the ankle joint. Ankle Instability can be either lateral (along the outside) or anterior (along the front).

    Ankle Instability

    Lateral Ankle Instability

    There are three major ligaments on the ankle’s lateral (outside) aspect: the anterior talofibular ligament, the posterior talofibular ligament, and the calcaneofibular ligament. Lateral Ankle Instability often occurs due to an injury or damage to one of the lateral ankle ligaments.

    Anterior Ankle Instability

    The anterior area of the ankle is the front or top of the ankle. The ligaments in this area include the anterior talofibular ligament and the anterior tibiotalar ligament. These ligaments can become damaged, causing subsequent instability of the ankle.


    Ankle instability can occur for a number of reasons, the most common of which include:

    • Weakened lower leg or ankle muscles and ankle laxity are the most common ankle instability causes;
    • General ligamentous laxity that results in increased instability and dislocations risk;
    • Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) at work or overuse activities prevalent in those participating in sports or having jobs that require repetitive activities;
    • People engaging in repetitive motion activities (jumping, running, etc.) may aggravate their ankles, causing ankle instability;
    • Sudden trauma or accident like a fall, a twist, or a blow to the ankle joint causes it to move out of its normal position.

    Damage to your ankle during the healing process can result in further ligament stretching and an increased risk of instability.

    Signs and Symptoms of Ankle Instability

    The symptoms of ankle instability vary depending on how severe your condition is. The following are some of the most common signs of ankle instability:

    • Tenderness in the ankle;
    • Discomfort when moving, particularly when flexing the ankle;
    • Sore ankles after working out;
    • The ankle feels like it’s about to give way when in certain positions;
    • Intense or dull pain on the outside of the ankle;
    • Weakness, swelling, loss of sensation, and bruising in the involved area.

    This condition can also cause your ankles to feel shaky or unstable when you stand up or walk around.

    Treating Ankle Instability

    A common conservative treatment for ankle instability is physical therapy to decrease pain and inflammation. A program of exercises to enhance muscle strength and stabilize ankles should be initiated as well. A brace and other ankle supports may be recommended during rehabilitation and as a preventative measure. If instability is not improving with conservative therapy and involves other joint structures, surgery may be required.


    After a course of conservative care that includes physical therapy to strengthen and stabilize the ankle, most people regain full function. People with more complicated issues, such as ligament tears or chronic dislocations, will be advised to undergo surgery and intensive physical therapy in order to regain full function.

    Medicine Intervenes

    In addition to physical therapy, your doctor may recommend and perform the following procedures:

    • Initial boot immobilization, followed by a gradual transition to a brace;
    • Icing and abstention from strenuous activity;
    • NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs);
    • Steroid Injections to decrease inflammation;
    • Pain relievers to alleviate discomfort and allow the patient to engage in the recommended exercises;
    • Physical therapy for ankle stability retraining which includes strengthening and balance improvement;
    • To prevent instability and injury recurrence, surgery is used to correct the underlying pathology. This may include surgical repairs or ankle ligament tightening procedures.

    To learn more about available ankle instability treatment options, book an appointment at Redefine Healthcare today by calling the office nearest you or using our convenient online scheduling system.

    The staff and support team are excellent and as far as I can tell Dr.Freeman has provided Me relief I am only one day out of the procedure but I feel markedly better.


    Page Updated on May 20, 2022 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare Dr. Eric D. Freeman

    Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

    Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a “top pain management doctor in New Jersey” and one of “America’s Top Physicians” for advanced sports injury treatments.

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