Lateral ankle instability, be it acute or chronic, is considered a highly complex condition to treat due to the foot areas affected. Regardless of the seriousness of the instability, the condition can be defined as either functional or mechanical.
Mechanical instability can be detected or observed radiographically or by using the anterior drawer test. Mechanical instability is often characterized when the lateral side of the ankle exceeds the normal physiological limits of motion.
Functional instability, however; is a chronic condition that involves the outer side of the ankle( lateral) repeatedly giving way. When this occurs, it signifies the loss of neuromuscular or sensorimotor control and can not be observed radiographically or by using the anterior drawer test. Hence, making it a difficult condition to treat.
Chronic lateral ankle instability condition is often caused by severe inversion injury and/ or repeated ankle sprains. Repeated ankle sprains injure or damage the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL), anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and/or the posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL).
Immediately after an ankle sprain, important functions such as postural control, strength and muscle reaction time are often affected negatively. In light of the Chronic lateral ankle instability, performing simple tasks such as standing or walking can result in the lateral side giving way.
Let us take a deeper look at what causes the development of either acute or chronic lateral ankle instability.