Ankle Instability & How To Prevent Lateral Ankle Sprain

Exercise and movement are important to most people, especially weekend warriors who prioritize staying active in their spare time. Injuries caused by consistently rolling or twisting an ankle can be frustrating, and even heartbreaking when progress towards a physical goal is halted due to ankle instability.

The surgeons at East Village Foot & Ankle strive to keep locals on their feet year-round, and to do so requires injury prevention education. Learn about lateral ankle sprain treatments and exercises for ankle instability.

Ankle Instability & Weakness After Sprain

If you have been injured while participating in dance, sports or even missed a step coming down the stairs, odds are you’ve experienced ankle instability and discomfort. It’s most common to experience ankle injuries and sprains on the outside of the ankle, known as a lateral ankle sprain. In severe form, this occurs when the ligaments in the ankle are stretched past their limits due to rolling, turning or twisting the ankle to one side.

How long does a lateral ankle sprain take to heal?

Depending on the severity paired with physical therapy, a lateral ankle sprain can take weeks or even months to fully heal. If your sprain is severe enough that it requires ankle instability surgery, it takes 4-6 weeks to return to physical activity and 12-16 weeks to fully recover.

How to Prevent a Lateral Ankle Sprain

According to, 70% of people who suffer from an ankle sprain are likely to experience a sprain again later on. For those that endure frequent ankle instability, it’s important to keep your ankles in a healthy state and prevent a lateral ankle sprain. There are a number of ways you can reinforce your balance and keep your ankles protected:

  • Regularly stretching your muscles, especially before activity, helps prevent injuries
  • Consistent exercise keeps your muscles active and more limber
  • Strengthen your core and build up the muscles in your lower extremities with lower-body movements
  • Wearing an ankle brace can provide support so that your ankles do not twist or bend as easily

If you have consistently used exercises to strengthen weak ankles but continue to experience ankle instability and weakness after sprains, it might be time to seek help at East Village Foot and Ankle Surgeons for more serious treatment. Our foot and ankle doctors can recommend a personalized approach to avoid ankle injuries. In some cases, a referral to physical therapy may be a good fit depending on the severity or frequency of your ankle sprains.

Lateral Ankle Sprain Treatment

Putting your active lifestyle on hold due to a lateral ankle sprain or recurring ankle instability is not sustainable. Our physicians in Des Moines, Mason City and Pella provide a range of lateral ankle sprain treatment options depending on the severity of the injury and how long a patient has dealt with ankle instability.

If conservative methods of treatment don’t work and you’re still experiencing repeat ankle sprains, ankle instability and continued pain, it may be time to consider a surgical option. Severe injuries may suggest damage to the ligament, tendon or cartilage, which often cannot be corrected without surgery.

Lateral Ankle Ligament Reconstruction

Lateral ankle instability surgery aims to address the injured structures, as well as any underlying concerns to prevent further and future injury. The goal is to restore strength and durability to the injured tendons or ligaments so you can get back to being active and doing what you love. The greatest benefits of advanced surgical repair with augmentation are:

  • Lateral ankle ligament reconstruction decreases the recovery time compared to other treatment options.
  • You’ll be able to return to the activities you love sooner.
  • Your doctors will make a small incision to perform the ankle instability surgery, so there’s minimal scarring.
  • After recovery, you can have more confidence in your ankle strength and stability.
  • You won’t have to be worried about continuous sprains and ankle instability with a repaired ligament.

Lateral Ankle Sprain Treatment at East Village Foot and Ankle Surgeons

Our doctors at East Village Foot & Ankle are leading surgeons in Iowa, providing advanced surgical treatment with a quicker return to normal activity. We strive to cure patients of frequent ankle sprain pain and prevent ankle instability. Learn more about our lateral ankle sprain treatment and contact our offices nearest to you to schedule an appointment and get back to your active lifestyle.