Chronic ankle instability can be a debilitating problem resulting from multiple ankle sprains, usually leading to additional ankle sprains and possible secondary conditions such as arthritis, synovitis or tendon tears. Not getting proper treatment for an ankle sprain at the time of the initial injury can lead to chronic pain and ankle instability. When ligaments are overstretched or torn, they regrow too loosely resulting in mechanical instability.
The conservative treatment for initial ankle sprains is physical therapy (physiotherapy, neuromuscular training) with a focus to correct position (proprioception), as well as strengthening the joints and motion deficits to provide a sufficient reduction in pain in order to avoid to avoid surgical intervention. Not treating ankle instability promptly leads to secondary complications that will often not resolve with physical therapy. Initial symptoms may improve but the underlying instability of the ankle may result in the return of pain after therapy stops. Ankle and foot orthoses, orthotics, stiff-soled shoes, and lateral heel wedges can also help prevent the recurrence of ankle instability.
If the joint remains unstable despite therapy (the ligaments are too loose), surgery may then be considered to shorten and tighten the ankle ligaments. Another option is to take a tendon out of the lower leg (tendons and ligaments are made from similar tissue) and use it as an outer ligament on the ankle.
Only a podiatrist can decide which treatment option is best for you. No matter what treatment your doctor finds the best for your situation, with a little patience, your sprained ankles can become stable again.