Ankle Instability

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When repeat injury in the ligaments surrounding the ankle occurs, the result is often ankle instability. This chronic condition causes recurrent slipping on the outer side of the ankle. Since ankle instability is largely a byproduct of multiple ankle sprains, athletes are particularly susceptible to the condition.

At OrthoAspen, our foot and ankle specialists will help pinpoint the cause of ankle instability. We are committed to devising a treatment plan that gets our patients back to the active lifestyle they enjoy—quickly and safely.

Risks, Causes & Symptoms

Studies have identified that 20% of patients with a history of previous acute ankle sprains develop ankle instability.

In addition to the repetitive injury of the ankle ligaments (on the same side), inadequate healing of a sprained ligament or incomplete rehabilitation can result in instability of the ankle. Ankle instability is generally identified during movement of the ankle joint, although it can be detected while standing as well.

The most common symptoms of ankle instability include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling and tenderness of the ankle
  • Ankle joint instability and persistent discomfort

To properly diagnose ankle instability, your OrthoAspen physician will go over your medical history, including a history of any previous ankle injuries. A full physical examination will take place to acquire an accurate diagnosis of the condition. An X-ray may be ordered in addition to imaging tests to help further evaluate the injury.


The management of ankle instability depends on the findings of the physical examination and the activity level of the patient. Generally, our OrthoAspen foot and ankle specialists will try to apply conservative treatment methods first.

Conservative treatment includes:

  • Physical therapy for improving strength, balance and range of motion of the joint.
  • Bracing to support the affected ankle and prevent a further sprain.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NASAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation.

Surgery is recommended in patients with a high degree of instability and in those who have failed to respond to nonsurgical treatments.

Commonly used surgical procedures involve repair or reconstruction of the damaged ligament.

It’s always our priority to return you the sports and activities to which you’re accustomed. Our OrthoAspen team will be with you every step of the way, from diagnosis and treatment to healing and recovery.

Click here to schedule a consultation, or call us at 970-544-1289.


Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400