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Lateral Ankle Sprain and Chronic Ankle Instability


A select 10-30% of patients with recurrent lateral ankle sprains develop chronic ankle instability (CAI). Patients with chronic ankle instability describe a history of the ankle "giving way" with or without pathological laxity on examination. Evaluation includes history, identification of predisposing risk factors for recurrent sprains, and the combination of clinical tests (eg, laxity tests) with imaging to establish the diagnosis. There are a variety of nonoperative strategies to address chronic ankle instability, which include rehabilitation and taping or bracing to prevent future sprains. Patients who fail conservative treatment are candidates for surgery. The anatomic approaches (eg, modified Broström) are preferred to nonanatomic procedures since they recreate the ankle's biomechanics and natural course of the attenuated ligaments. There is a growing interest in minimally invasive procedures via ankle arthroscopy that also address the associated intra-articular disorders. This article provides a review of chronic lateral ankle instability consisting of relevant anatomy, associated disorders, evaluation, treatment methods, and complications.

Level of evidence

Level V, expert opinion.

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