Chronic ankle laxity is when the ankle joint is loose or unstable following and injury or damage to the ligaments in the ankle. The ligaments normally hold the ankle together and keep it stable.
Diagnosis begins with an examination of the ankle for signs of recurrent swelling, pain or looseness. There's a feeling that the ankle is giving way or that the ankle joint is loose.
The physician will ask about any recent injuries. Depending on the outcome of this examination, an X-ray may be taken while the ankle is under stress, which will show whether the patient's ankle bones are loose. A computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may also be taken to see the ankle in greater detail.
Treatment of ankle laxity is crucial to help avoid long term damage to the ankle joint. Without treatment, patients with ankle laxity may repeatedly twist and injure their ankle and cause additional permanent damage
Physiotherapy can to rehabilitate the ankle that has been injured. The goal is to restore the ankle's range of motion, strength, balance and coordination to what it was before the injury or, if possible, even stronger so that the risk of another injury is decreased. Often exercises to strengthen the ankle need to be done long after an injury has healed to help prevent re-injuring the ankle.
Other treatments for ankle laxity may include a brace, anti-inflammatory drugs, ice and/or elevation.
If conservative treatment does not restore or repair the ankle, surgery may be required. Surgical techniques reconstruct the damaged ligaments, which are torn or stretched out. Recovery time varies, but most patients can start full weight bearing by three weeks after surgery, and return to sports activities by three to four months. The ankle should ultimately have the same range of motion and strength as the uninjured ankle.