Frequently Asked Questions

I sprained my left ankle again for what seems like the 10th time. I was just walking across the yard, and my ankle rolled right out from under me. Why does this keep happening to me?

Anyone who has sprained his or her ankle even once is at risk for a second or even third sprain of the same ankle. This is especially true when there's been no treatment to restore the damaged ankle to normal. Chronic ankle sprains can lead to ankle instability. Unexpected and sudden ankle rolling is a sign of ankle instability. There are many possible reasons for this type of problem. It's likely you have damaged one or more of the ligaments, tendons, or muscles that help hold the ankle together. There may be an underlying anatomic reason as well. Sometimes variations in the normal anatomy set a person up for injury. For example, a narrow or shallow groove in the bone through which the tendons travel might not be able to hold the tendon in place like it should. Some people have extra bony bumps, extra bones, or a slightly displaced muscle belly. Some people have an additional muscle such as the peroneus quartus, peroneus digiti quinti, or peronealcalcaneus. In others, the tendon is angled more than is considered within normal limits. Any of these added anatomical features change the dynamics of how the foot works and can contribute to problems. But you don't have to continue suffering. It may be possible to rehab the ankle and stop these episodes from occurring. A program of physical therapy may be advised. If, after three-to-six months of daily effort to restore normal motion, biomechanics, and strength, you still have problems, then surgery might be in order. Consulting with a surgeon might be a good idea to see what are your options.

Terrence M. Philbin, DO, et al. Peroneal Tendon Injuries. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. May 2009. Vol. 17. No. 5. Pp. 306-317.

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