Chronic Ankle Laxity

Chronic Ankle Laxity

When someone experiences repeated ankle sprains without the right rehabilitation, it can damage and weaken the ligaments, leaving the ankle in a weakened and unstable state. This leads to chronic ankle laxity or instability (CAI).  Incomplete healing after an ankle injury may result in continued deterioration of the ligaments and a cycle of chronic instability and recurring ankle sprains. Chronic ankle laxity is a long-term condition that may not heal on its own.  That’s why it is so important to see an orthopedic specialist at the Colorado Center of Orthopedic Excellence in Colorado Springs, Colorado, before It can affect the quality of life, cause individuals to stop engaging in physical activity, and lead to post-traumatic osteoarthritis.


Acute ankle injuries and ankle sprains account for more than 2 million cases of chronic ankle laxity per year. Chronic ankle laxity is a condition where the ankle is unstable, has too much “looseness,” and easily gives out. The ligaments in the ankle normally hold it together and keep it stable. In some instances, the ankle may give out even though the ligaments are stable. This is referred to as “functional instability” and may be due to tightness or pain in the Achilles tendon. Other joints in the foot may also be involved. Some people have looseness in multiple joints due to genetic conditions.


The human foot and ankle are comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints, and 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The ankle joint connects the bones in the lower leg to the foot bones. It is where the shin bone (tibia), calf bone (fibula), and talus bone meet. The ankle has two joints: the main ankle joint and the subtalar joint (the joint below the ankle). The main ankle joint allows for the up-and-down motion of the foot. The subtalar joint allows for the side-to-side motion of the foot.


With chronic ankle laxity, an initial ankle sprain occurs when an individual rolls, twists, or turns the ankle inward in an awkward way, causing one’s weight to shift to the outside of the ankle. This forced rotation of the ankle causes the supporting ligaments to stretch or tear. Stretched and torn ligaments are weaker and may not heal properly. Unable to play their role supporting the ankle joint, the ligaments “give way” easily, resulting in more sprains. Each subsequent sprain leads to further weakening or stretching of the ligaments and greater instability. The result is chronic ankle laxity and an unending cycle of ankle sprains. “Giving way” can occur while walking or doing other activities, but it can also happen when just standing.

Read more about Chronic Ankle Laxity on our new Colorado Springs Orthopedic News Site – Colorado Springs Orthopedic News. Schedule an appointment with an ankle specialist today.