Treating Ankle Instability

Dr. Robert Joseph Podiatrist (Foot and Ankle Specialist) Tustin, CA

• Surgical Podiatrist • Foot & Ankle Sports Injuries • Personal Injury Specialist Minimal-Invasive: Minimal Touch, Maximum Care and Advanced Podiatry Non-Invasive: Gentle Steps, Leading Non-Invasive Podiatry Solutions Laser Procedures: Pioneering Procedures for Healing Personal Injury: Winning Personal Injury... more

Treating Ankle Instability: Finding Your Footing with Expert Care

Hello! If you’re reading this, chances are you’re experiencing some form of ankle instability or perhaps you're worried about a troubling wobble in your step. As an accomplished surgical podiatrist based in Los Angeles, I’ve had the pleasure of helping numerous individuals regain their stability and confidence. Today, I would love to share some valuable insights about ankle instability, from its causes to treatment options.

Understanding Ankle Instability

First off, what do we mean by ankle instability? In simple terms, it’s when your ankle feels wobbly or gives out frequently, especially during physical activities. This issue can occur after an injury, or sometimes for reasons that are more complex. If you’ve ever twisted your ankle and felt like it’s never quite been the same, you’re not alone. Ankle instability is more common than you might think.

Causes of Ankle Instability

Ankle instability often stems from one or more of the following reasons:

Previous Injuries: If you’ve had recurring ankle sprains, the ligaments around your ankle may have become weakened or overstretched.

Ligament Laxity: Some people have ligaments that are naturally looser, making them more susceptible to instability.

Poor Mechanics: Misalignment or improper function of the foot and ankle can contribute to instability.

Weak Muscles: Insufficient strength in the muscles surrounding your ankle can result in an inability to properly support the joint.

Proprioception Deficit: This is your body's ability to sense the position of your foot; if compromised, it can lead to instability.

Symptoms of Ankle Instability

Wondering whether what you’re feeling qualifies as ankle instability? Here are some common symptoms:

Frequent Ankle Rolling: If your ankle often turns or gives out during walking or other activities.

Chronic Swelling and Pain: Ongoing discomfort and swelling, especially on the outer side of your ankle.

Feeling Unstable: A persistent sense that your ankle is going to "buckle" or give way.


Diagnosing ankle instability is crucial for tailoring an effective treatment plan. When you visit a specialist like myself, here’s what you can generally expect:

Medical History Review: A thorough discussion about your symptoms, previous injuries, and lifestyle.

Physical Examination: Assessing the range of motion, strength, and stability of your ankle.

Imaging Tests: X-rays, MRI, or other imaging techniques to get a detailed look at the structures within your ankle.

Treatment Options

The good news is that ankle instability is treatable, and there are several avenues to regain your footing. The treatment will depend on the severity and underlying causes of your instability. Below, I’ll walk you through various options:

1. Non-Surgical Treatments

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is often the first line of treatment. Therapy focuses on strengthening the muscles around your ankle and improving proprioception. You’ll be guided through exercises and stretches that aim to enhance stability.

Ankle Braces and Supports: In some cases, a brace or support can provide the stability your ankle needs while it heals. These are especially useful for preventing further injury during activity.

Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications can help manage pain and swelling. They are often prescribed alongside other treatments.

Lifestyle Modifications: Sometimes, simple changes like switching to supportive footwear or modifying your activity level can make a significant difference.

Prolotherapy and Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections: Both are minimally invasive treatments that can promote healing of ligaments. These injections encourage your body’s natural healing processes to strengthen the ligaments around your ankle.

2. Surgical Treatments

When conservative treatments aren’t effective, surgery may be necessary. Here are a few surgical options:

Lateral Ankle Ligament Reconstruction: Also known as the Broström procedure, this surgery tightens and repairs the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle.

Tendon Grafts: In cases of severe instability, a tendon graft might be used to reconstruct the damaged ligaments. Tendons from other parts of your body or synthetic materials can be used.

ArthroscopyThis minimally invasive surgery involves small incisions and a camera to clean out any debris or loose fragments in the ankle joint, which can help alleviate instability.

Rehabilitation is a critical part of treatment, whether you've undergone surgery or not. It involves a structured program of physical therapy to ensure proper healing and to restore strength and flexibility. Patience and persistence are key during this period to regain your full range of motion and stability.

Your Role in Recovery
As a patient, you play a significant role in your recovery. Here are some tips on how to aid in your treatment:

Follow Your Treatment Plan: Adhere to the exercises and recommendations from your healthcare provider.

Stay Active, but Cautious: While it’s important to keep your body moving, avoid activities that put undue stress on your ankle until you’re fully healed.

Proper Footwear: Invest in supportive shoes that offer adequate cushioning and stability.

Nutrition and Hydration: A balanced diet and staying hydrated can support your body’s natural healing processes.

Consulting a Specialist

If you suspect you have ankle instability, consulting a specialist is the best step you can take. As a surgical podiatrist with expertise in foot and ankle injuries and a depth of experience in Personal Injury cases, I understand the unique needs and concerns of my patients.

In our consultation, we'll conduct a thorough assessment to identify the exact cause of your instability. We'll then discuss the most suitable treatment options tailored to your specific condition, lifestyle, and recovery goals.

Final Thoughts

Living with ankle instability can be a frustrating experience, but the journey to recovery begins with understanding the condition and taking proactive steps to treat it. From conservative measures like physical therapy and lifestyle modifications to advanced surgical interventions, there are multiple paths to regain stability and confidence in your stride.

If you’re in Los Angeles and seeking professional evaluation and treatment for ankle instability, feel free to reach out to my practice. Together, we can develop a personalized plan to help you find your footing and return to the activities you love with strength and stability.

Here’s to happier, healthier feet! Stay steady and take care.
Dr. Joseph