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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Foot and Ankle

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Sprains and instability

Your ankle is held together by three main ligaments which stop the ankle sliding forward and rolling from side to side. They, in turn, are attached to the fibula.

If you sprain your ankle, then you will have twisted it or forced it beyond its normal capability. Sometimes an ankle does not heal properly after a sprain or you may sprain your ankle repeatedly - the outcome of both these scenarios is chronic ankle instability which results in swelling in the ankle. This can cause the body to switch off the muscles around the joint which reduces stability even more.

Treatment will depend on the extent of your injury. It may be that no treatment is necessary, you may be advised to simply wait for the ankle to heal.

Use of a plaster cast for several weeks may be recommended. This will immobilise the leg but will allow you to walk comfortably.

Physiotherapy may also be an option. You may be fitted with a removable ankle brace and given an exercise regime.

In more acute cases, surgical intervention to repair the injured ligaments may be considered.

It is important to understand the implications of your treatment. We therefore encourage you to prepare beforehand any questions you might wish to ask and discuss these fully with your consultant.