Oftentimes, ankle strains and sprains can lead to small tears and stretch of your ligaments. In most cases, full recovery is made. However, sometimes the ligaments don't heal correctly, leading to a feeling of 'giving way' and instability, which can result in recurrent ankle sprains.

Lateral ligament repair is typically recommended to reconstruct your stretched ligaments. In a lateral ligament repair, your Pensacola orthopedic surgeon tightens your ligaments where they have ruptured or become lax to help maintain your mobility and regain stability.

Who Needs It

The good news is that most ankle sprains heal on their own. However, in a small number of people, the ligaments heal in a lengthened position, or don't heal at all. In these cases, lax ankle ligaments are unable to hold the ankle in place, resulting in instability and instances where the ankle gives way. This giving away usually occurs when you are changing direction quickly or are on uneven ground.

If your ankle is unstable and nonsurgical treatments, such as physiotherapy, are not effective, lateral ligament repair surgery might be needed. Before surgery is considered, you typically go through six months of nonsurgical treatment. Your doctor will give you a physical examination and X-rays to see if the ankle is indeed unstable and help with the diagnosis.

How Does It Work

This procedure is usually an outpatient surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon will likely give you regional or general anesthesia. If necessary, other surgeries might be needed and will be performed during the same surgery. Usually this involves the surgeon performing arthroscopic surgery on the joint of your ankle. He makes a large incision to perform the reconstruction. Other types of techniques could be performed if needed.


Following the lateral ligament repair surgery, you will be in a cast or splint for at least a couple weeks. You might not be able to bear any weight on your ankle for up to six weeks; however, you can gradually advance weight bearing by wearing a removable walking boot. After the boot, you usually are placed in an athletic ankle brace.

After six weeks, you begin ankle strengthening, which involves formal physical therapy. You could also be placed in a physical therapy program that focuses on:

  • Regaining ankle motion.
  • Strengthening your weak ankle.
  • Ankle proprioception improving.
  • Normal gait relearning.

During your first couple of months following surgery, you might wear an ankle lacer or a similar device to protect your ankle and may be able to perform more intense physical activities again. Your estimated total recovery period is between six to 12 months. Discuss with your Pensacola orthopedic surgeon if lateral ligament repair is right for you following an ankle sprain.