Sprained ankles happen when one of your ligaments gives way allowing your bones to slip out of position. Most of the time sprained ankles heal just fine, but sometimes that initial ankle sprain can stretch or damage your ligaments enough that they don’t properly support your joint anymore. This is called ankle instability.
People with ankle instability are more likely to sprain their ankle again, have persistent pain and feel like their ankles are weak. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, talk to your doctor. Ankle instability symptoms can be reduced with the right treatment.
Your doctor will likely ask you how many times you’ve injured your ankle and whether you can pinpoint where the pain is coming from. Your doctor will also look at how much you can move your ankle and may recommend diagnostic imaging to get a better look at what exactly is causing your symptoms.
Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor may recommend physical therapy or strength training to build up the muscles around your ankle.
If your ankle is still painful and weak after this treatment, your doctor may suggest surgery to restore stability to your ankle. During surgery, your doctor would try to repair or reconstruct the damaged ligaments. Many people who have this surgery feel much steadier on their new ankles.