Ankle Instability – Symptoms, Care & Treatments | MedStar Health
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Ankle instability occurs when the outside of your ankle feels weak and tends to turn in unexpectedly. When you sprain your ankle, you stretch or tear the muscles that connect your bones, which are called ligaments. The more you damage your ligaments, the more likely you are to experience ankle instability.

Ankle instability symptoms

If you have sprained your ankle repeatedly, you are likely to develop ankle instability. Symptoms include:

  • Ankles feel weak
  • Ankles turn in or “give way” unexpectedly
  • Pain
  • Swelling

How to care for ankle instability

Our MedStar Orthopedic Institute offers you the most comprehensive and experienced care for ankle instability in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, MD regions. Our orthopedic ankle instability specialists are all fellowship trained in foot and ankle surgery and specialize in caring only for conditions affecting the lower extremities.

We perform 1,500 surgeries each year, and specialize in minimally invasive techniques that offer faster and less painful recoveries than traditional surgery. We often recommend surgery for:

  • Athletes who experience repeated strains and need to avoid developing arthritis
  • People who have weak ankles because of a congenital disorder
  • People who had unsuccessful surgery at a different institution

Whether you need surgical or non-surgical treatment, the MedStar Orthopedic Institute offers every service you need for a successful recovery. Services we provide include:

  • Radiology
  • Diagnostics
  • Pedorthic and shoe consultants, if you need special orthotics, inserts, or shoes
  • Durable medical goods, including braces, crutches, and other equipment to support your recovery
  • Physical therapy

The capable staff at the MedStar Orthopedic Institute coordinates all of your additional care needs for you, so you do not have to spend the time or the hassle managing them on your own.

If you need it, we also provide multidisciplinary care, which allows us to involve specialists from a variety of other areas, including vascular specialists and plastic surgeons, to care for your ankle instability.

Ankle weakness or instability diagnosis

Our orthopedic surgeons are experts at diagnosing ankle instability. Our initial exam generally includes:

  • Taking your medical history : This includes asking questions about previous ankle sprains or injuries, and how often you have experienced ankle weakness or instability.
  • Physical exam :The orthopedist will examine your ankle to see where your ankle is most swollen and painful.
  • Imaging tests : Your orthopedist may want to examine the bones and joints themselves using an X-ray, CT scans, or MRI.


Treatment for ankle instability usually depends on how severe your weakness is. Our experienced foot and ankle orthopedists will examine you carefully and work with you to develop the most effective treatment plan. Our team will recommend any combination of non-surgical and surgical treatment options designed to ease your pain and improve the strength in your ankle.

Treatment options aside from surgery may include:

  • Medication to ease pain and swelling symptoms.
  • Ankle brace to prevent the ankle from giving way and to protect the ankle from further sprains.
  • Physical therapy and exercises that help support increased ankle strength and ease of movement.


In some cases, non-surgical treatment does not provide enough relief from ankle instability. If you do need surgery, our orthopedic surgeons will work with you to determine the most effective procedure for your condition.

Our surgical team is experienced in the most advanced and innovative surgical procedures for ankle instability treatment. We specialize in the correction of failed surgery performed at other institutions.