What is ankle stabilization?
It is a group of surgical procedures designed to treat ankle instability due to chronic ankle sprains. The most common stabilization procedure is called the Modified Brostrom.
What is ankle instability?
Almost everyone will experience an ankle sprain at one time or another in his or her lifetime. The majority of us will never go on to develop chronic, symptomatic ankle instability. Chronic instability is the situation in which the ankle frequently “gives out” or “turns” during normal, daily activities.
What are the symptoms of ankle instability?
As mentioned, the main symptom is frequent instability events with normal activities. Pain is usually a minor complaint, except after a significant instability event. Persistent pain, catching, locking, or grinding of the joint might suggest injury to the cartilage in the ankle, which is somewhat common in patients with long-term instability.
How is the procedure performed?
Because of the high incidence of cartilage injuries associated with an unstable ankle, a diagnostic arthroscopy is performed prior to the stabilization. After addressing any problems in the joint, a small incision (5cm) is made on the outer part of the ankle. The stretched and torn ligaments are tightened and re-enforced with permanent suture material. In cases of severe instability, a tendon graft is sometimes required to increase the strength of the repair.
What is recovery like?
Most patients can return to work or school in 7-10 days. A splint or cast is placed on the ankle for the first 6 weeks, followed by a walking boot. Therapy is started after removal of the cast. Return to sports and athletic events can be expected by 4-6 months.
How do I know if I need a stabilization procedure?
If you think you suffer from chronic ankle instability and continue to have daily symptoms despite therapy and bracing, a discussion with a medical professional experienced in ankle surgery would be appropriate. A complete series of weight-bearing xrays of the foot and ankle, as well as a high-quality MRI will aid in a definitive diagnosis.