If you find yourself frequently spraining an ankle, there may be a real medical problem causing this. You may have an unstable ankle, either from birth or from repeated ankle injuries. Instead of spending your money on ankle supports and wraps, see your local podiatry services for an evaluation of your ankle. They may be able to identify the cause and correct it so you can walk, exercise and play your favorite sports without fear of your ankle giving out.

Why Unstable Ankles Happen

The muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones in your ankle work together to give the ankle joint the ability to move, but only so much. There is a limit to how much your ankle can move and still support your weight. A person with an unstable ankle often feels as if the ankle gives way and fails to support them. This is because some structure in the ankle, typically a tendon or ligament, is too weak and allows the ankle to extend in one direction too far.

You could have a hereditary condition that shows up as weak ligaments. Or you have repeatedly injured your ankles and the tendons failed to heal properly. In either case, the ankle isn't strong enough to prevent itself from going past its normal range of motion, making it easy to sprain.

If you watch your feet carefully when walking or feel like you need to support yourself when walking on an uneven surface, your unstable ankle is controlling your life. It's time to see a doctor to get rid of the foot and ankle pain, and remove your fear of injury every time you take a step.

Treating Your Ankle Problem

Once your foot doctor determines the amount of instability, they will make recommendations to strengthen your ankle. They will have you try the less invasive treatments first. But if your ankle doesn't respond, surgery may be the only way to correct the problem. Some of the treatment recommendations may include:

  • Physical therapy - A series of exercises may be prescribed to strengthen the muscles and tendons to hold your ankle more securely.
  • Ankle supports - Various braces and orthotics may be tried to support your ankle while undergoing physical therapy and other treatments.
  • Ligament repair - The ligaments hold your ankle bones together and, if damaged by previous sprains, they may not hold the bones securely enough to prevent future injury. Surgery can be done to adjust the length of the ligaments to make the ankle more stable.
  • Artificial joint replacement - A severely damaged ankle may require a replacement joint of metal and plastic to regain stability. This is a major surgical procedure, but may be your only option to correct the instability once and for all. To learn more, speak with someone like Aiken Maurice W, DPM PA.