Ankle instability happens when the outside part of the ankle constantly “gives out” when putting weight on it, especially when you’re running or walking on uneven surfaces. It can even happen when you’re standing. People with ankle instability often complain that the ankle feels wobbly or unstable. Many athletes, as well as others, suffer from chronic ankle instability.

People with chronic ankle instability often complain of:

  • Rolling the ankle repeatedly, especially on uneven surfaces or when participating in sports
  • Persistent discomfort and swelling
  • Pain or tenderness
  • The ankle feeling wobbly or unstable


Chronic ankle instability usually develops following an ankle sprain that has not adequately healed or was not rehabilitated completely. When you sprain your ankle, the connective tissues (ligaments) are stretched or torn. The ability to balance is often affected. Proper rehabilitation is needed to strengthen the muscles around the ankle and “retrain” the tissues within the ankle that affect balance. Failure to do so may result in repeated ankle sprains. Those who suffer repeated ankle sprains are at risk for ankle instability.


In evaluating and diagnosing your condition, your Cornerstone Foot & Ankle surgeon will evaluate previous ankle injuries and examine your ankle checking for tender areas, signs of swelling, and instability of your ankle. X-rays or other imaging studies may be helpful in further evaluating the ankle.


Treatment for chronic ankle instability is based on the results of the examination and tests, as well as on the patient’s level of activity. Some non-surgical treatments include the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method, physical therapy, bracing and/or medications. In some cases, surgery may be recommended based on the degree of instability or lack of response to non-surgical approaches. Surgery usually involves repair or reconstruction of the damaged ligament(s).

If you think you are suffering from ankle instability schedule your appointment with your Cornerstone Foot & Ankle doctor. Call now or request your appointment online.