Lateral ankle instability is a very common problem that results after multiple ankle sprains. This conditions affects athletes and non-athletes alike. At Bay Area Podiatry Group in San Leandro, California, experienced podiatrists Jenny Yu, DPM, and Renee Woo, DPM specialize in treating lateral ankle instability. Call the office today to request an ankle pain consultation or book your appointment online.

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What is lateral ankle instability?

Lateral ankle instability refers to ligamentous laxity (i.e., “loose ankle”) in the ankle, usually after multiple strains and sprains.  The most common ligament in the ankle that gets injured is the anterior talofibular ligament (aka “ATFL”).    This ligament, along with other ankle and lower leg ligaments, is very important in maintaining a balanced gait (i.e., walking straight).

What causes ankle instability?

As one goes through life, they may have sprained their ankle many times while playing sports, tripping and falling on uneven pavement, or has a job that requires a lot of climbing, bending, stopping, walking, etc.  As mentioned above, one may have sustained many strains and sprains in their lateral ankle.  Over time, this ligament is heavily scarred and/or does not heal correctly. This leads to an altered gait over time, making one unstable, especially when twisting, or walking on uneven surfaces.

What are the signs / symptoms of lateral ankle instability?

Common complaints include difficulty with exercising, difficulty wearing high heels.  Exercises that involved side-to-side movements is difficulty.  Walking on uneven surfaces is also very difficult.  In severe cases, one can see that the injured foot is more inverted than the non-injured foot at rest.

How is ankle pain diagnosed?

The doctors at Bay Area Podiatry Group with fully evaluate you and perform a comprehensive biomechanical exam, take xrays if necessary to help diagnose your ailment.  If necessary, and MRI will be ordered to evaluate the soft tissues.

How is ankle pain treated?

How ankle pain is treated depends on the underlying cause. Bay Area Podiatry Group typically recommends conservative and minimally invasive treatments, including:

  • RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
  • Immobilization – boot or brace
  • Over-the-counter pain medicine
  • Braces and splints
  • Physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections

If all conservative measures fail, surgical treatments will be discussed with you to determine if this is the appropriate next step.  Call Bay Area Podiatry Group today if you are experiencing these symptoms, or make your appointment online.