Ankle Impingement2016-10-12T12:39:57-04:00

Ankle Impingement

ankle Blacksburg, VA

Ankle impingement is a condition that occurs when the soft or bony tissues within the joint are compressed at the extreme end of a motion, such as pointing the foot sharply downward. This type of injury usually affects athletes like dancers, gymnasts, or people performing kicking activities. Ankle impingement may also result from overuse of the joint or repeatedly injuring the joint with sprains that do not fully heal.

Symptoms of Ankle Impingement

The two locations on the ankle joint where impingement is likely to occur are known as “anterior” (front side of ankle) and “posterior” (back side of ankle).

Individuals that suffer with anterior ankle impingement typically have discomfort or pain during the following activities:

  • Dull ache at the front of the ankle when resting.
  • Sharp pain at the front of the ankle with excessive dorsiflexion or weight-bearing.
  • Increased symptoms following certain activities, including walking or running (especially up hills or on uneven surfaces).
  • Deep squatting or lunging ( with the knee moving outward over the toes).
  • Landing from a jump.
  • Performing a calf stretch.
  • Heavy lifting or twisting activities.
  • Tenderness or pain on palpation of the front of the ankle joint.
  • In some cases, a “clicking” sensation may be experienced during certain ankle movements.
  • Puffiness or swelling of the ankle joint.

Symptoms of Posterior Ankle Impingement

Patients with posterior ankle impingement typically experience pain during activities requiring maximal plantarflexion of the ankle (pointing of the foot) or after these activities while resting. Often the discomfort is noticed at rest at night or in the morning.

Symptoms of posterior ankle impingement are typically felt at the back of the ankle, or in the Achilles region; and may manifest as a dull ache or a more acute, sharper pain. Symptoms may increase when firmly touching the back of the ankle joint and can be referred into other areas, such as the calf or foot.

Symptoms of posterior impingement include pain behind the heel or deep in the back of the ankle. There is generally pain or tenderness just behind the bottom tip of the fibula, by the outer ankle bone. Pain worsens when the foot is pointed down into plantarflexion. A painful “clicking” sensation may also be felt as the foot is twisted in and out.

Treatment of Ankle Impingement

At Sideline Orthopedics, treatment of ankle impingement will begin with a conservative approach. If you have been diagnosed with ankle impingement, you can expect the following treatment modalities:

  • Rest the ankle to help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Walking boot to immobilize or restrict ankle movement for up to four weeks.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort.
  • Icing the ankle to help reduce swelling and facilitate a faster healing process.
  • Steroid injections deliver a strong anti-inflammatory medication directly to the soft tissue that is being pinched. A steroid injection can help relieve irritation and swelling in the soft tissue, thus decreasing the pain and discomfort of impingement.
  • Physical therapy rehabilitation will be recommended to help you regain the normal use of your ankle. A progressive rehabilitation program will restore range of motion and strength to the ankle joint.

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