Many studies investigated the contributing factors of chronic ankle instability, but a consensus has not yet been obtained. The objective of this critical review is to provide recent scientific evidence on chronic ankle instability, including the epidemiology and pathology of lateral ankle sprain as well as the causative factors of chronic ankle instability. We searched MEDLINE from 1964 to December 2013 using the terms ankle, sprain, ligament, injury, chronic, functional, mechanical, and instability. Lateral ankle sprain shows a very high recurrence rate and causes considerable economic loss due to medical care, prevention, and secondary disability. During the acute phase, patients with ankle sprain demonstrate symptoms such as pain, range of motion deficit, postural control deficit, and muscle weakness, and these symptoms may persist, leading to chronic ankle instability. Although some agreement regarding the effects of chronic ankle instability with deficits in postural control and/or concentric eversion strength exists, the cause of chronic ankle instability remains controversial. LEVELS OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic Level IV: Review of Level IV studies.
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