Weakening of the Ankle Ligaments Caused by Repeated Sprains

Ankle instability is when the outside part of your ankle frequently turns in. This occurs because the ankle ligaments are weak or overstretched.

In most cases, weak or overstretched ankle ligaments are the result of repeated, unhealed ankle sprains (an injury that happens when the ankle joint is moved into an unnatural position, causing the ligaments to stretch too far or tear). Though ankle sprains and ankle instability are common in athletes, both can happen to anyone.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

If your ankle often “gives way” when you’re walking or being active, it could be a sign of ankle instability. This is particularly true if the ankle also causes you frequent pain or always seems swollen.

A physical exam is needed to diagnose ankle instability. Your doctor will also need information about any previous ankle sprains or injuries. Your doctor may also do an X-ray or MRI scan to look at the ankle joint and ligaments.

Without proper healing, ankle sprains can lead to ankle instability. Strengthening the ankle with physical therapy and supporting it with a brace may improve ankle instability. If nonsurgical treatments are unsuccessful, you may need ligament reconstruction surgery.

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Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, which is ranked as one of the best orthopaedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to state-of-the-art treatments, translational research and provider training.

Truly Comprehensive Care Through an Established Institute

Our foot and ankle experts and other orthopaedic providers work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and specialists in their respective fields. Because the institute fosters teamwork and curiosity in medicine, our orthopaedics and sports medicine providers are able to provide the best patient outcomes.

Advancing Orthopaedic Medicine Through Research

The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing the field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.

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