Ankle Impingement

Understanding Your Condition

What is ankle impingement?

Ankle impingement is abnormal contact of soft tissue or bony structures around the ankle. This may cause painful limitation of ankle range of motion. Ankle impingement can be at different locations around the joint, including anterior or posterior. Anterior ankle impingement occurs in the front or anterior part of the ankle. This type of an impingement is common in athletes who report pain in the front-outside part of the ankle involved in cutting and pivoting movements in sports. Posterior ankle impingement occurs in the back part of the ankle. It occurs more often in those who have extra bone or accessory bone in this area. This can lead to the pinching of the ankle capsule and posterior heel pain.

What are the symptoms and causes of ankle impingement?

Causes of an ankle impingement include traumatic events such as sprains or prior fractures. These injuries can stem from activities like running or jumping that accumulate over time from repetitive movements and result in ankle impingement. Symptoms of an ankle impingement include swelling, pain in the front or outside of the joint, ankle instability, decreased range of motion, pain when pointing the toes towards the shins, and the front of the ankle may be tender when touched.

How do you treat ankle impingement?

In order to properly diagnose ankle impingement a physician will conduct a physical examination and ask the patient specific questions about the injury and any activities that might have contributed to it. Imaging such as X-rays or MRIs may be needed to rule out other conditions or to better assess the injury. Rest, anti-inflammatory medications and icing the injury may be recommended. Steroid injections may be helpful as well. Physical therapy may be helpful to regain proper balance and mobility. If nonsurgical measures do not improve the condition, surgery may be helpful.

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