Management of acute and chronic ankle instability

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2008 Oct;16(10):608-15. doi: 10.5435/00124635-200810000-00006.


Acute lateral ankle ligament injuries are common. If left untreated, they can result in chronic instability. Nonsurgical measures, including functional rehabilitation, are the management methods of choice for acute injuries, with surgical intervention reserved for high-demand athletes. Chronic lateral ankle instability is multifactorial. Failed nonsurgical management after appropriate rehabilitation is an indication for surgery. Of the many surgical options available, anatomic repair of the anterior talofibular and calcaneofibular ligaments is recommended when the quality of the ruptured ligaments permits. Anatomic reconstruction with autograft or allograft should be performed when the ruptured ligaments are attenuated. Ankle arthroscopy is an important adjunct to ligamentous repair and should be performed at the time of repair to identify and address intra-articular conditions associated with chronic ankle instability. Tenodesis procedures are not recommended because they may disturb ankle and hindfoot biomechanics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Ankle Injuries / complications*
  • Ankle Injuries / diagnosis
  • Ankle Injuries / therapy*
  • Arthroplasty / methods
  • Arthroscopy
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / diagnosis
  • Joint Instability / etiology*
  • Joint Instability / therapy*
  • Ligaments, Articular / injuries
  • Ligaments, Articular / surgery
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Prognosis
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Rupture / surgery
  • Splints
  • Tenodesis / methods