Anterior Ankle Impingement: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Anterior Ankle Impingement: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Nov 22 , 2021


Tags - Anterior Ankle Impingement

Anterior ankle impingement, sometimes known as athlete’s or footballer’s ankle, is a condition that happens when bone spurs form in the front of the ankle joint.

In other words, the joint capsule at the front of the ankle is being pinched, compressed or wedged when you flex your foot up on your ankle.

And, these spurs can either form at the end of the shin bone; the tibia, on the top of the ankle bone; the talus, or on both.

So, when the foot is pushed upwards, the bone spurs pinch which is what causes the pain.

Usually, this condition is caused by repetitive movements and overuse to the ankle, but it does have other possible causes like an ankle sprain.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the symptoms of anterior ankle impingement, what causes the condition and what treatment is available.

Causes of Anterior Ankle Impingement 

There are a few causes of anterior ankle impingement.

But, the most common cause is due to repetitive strain placed on the ankle from playing sports or doing excessive exercise.

Simply, activities that require the foot to constantly bend upwards, known as dorsiflexion, can result in this condition.

Typically, these activities include: football, volleyball, running, ballet and basketball.

However, trauma to the ankle, such as an ankle sprain that results in ankle stability can lead to anterior ankle impingement too.

In addition, other factors can play a role in this condition, such as:

  • Irregular bone shape at the front of the talus
  • The biomechanics of your feet
  • Swelling at the front of the ankle which narrows the joint space
  • A cyst or other growth at the front of the ankle

Symptoms & Diagnosis of Anterior Ankle Impingement 

Usually, when athletes develop anterior ankle impingement, they will experience pain in the front of their ankle, especially when they bend it upwards.

And, this pain can be particularly evident when squatting, kneeling or walking up hills or stairs.

But, other symptoms include:

  • A dull ache during rest periods
  • Tenderness at the touch
  • Swelling at the front of the ankle
  • Locking of the ankle joint

So, if you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Here, your doctor will ask you questions about your injury, the activities you do and the symptoms you’re experiencing.

In some cases, you may be asked to bend your ankle forward to test your range of movement, or perform a quick ankle impingement test which involves lunging forward while keeping your heel on the floor.

Lastly, you may have to have an x-ray or MRI scan to identify any bone spurs or underlying conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

Treatment For Anterior Ankle Impingement

Normally, treatment for this condition is aimed towards reducing inflammation in this area.

And this can be achieved by:

  • Resting; taking a break from the activity that caused the condition
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Icing the area
  • Wearing an ankle brace; this is especially if you’ve had repeated ankle sprains
  • Custom orthotics to correct the alignment of the foot

In more severe cases, you may be recommended to have surgery, where bone spurs or scar tissue is removed; known as arthroscopic debridement.

Finally, recovery time will vary from patient to patient, but usually takes between 4 - 6 weeks; physiotherapy will also play an important role in your recovery.

Please get in touch to find out more.

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