From walking and running to standing and sitting, your ankles play a vital role in your well-being and ability to complete simple tasks throughout your daily life. Unfortunately, the ankle also experiences a great deal of stress, which increases the risk of discomfort and immobility.
Anterior ankle impingement is a common condition that causes pain and stiffness in one or both ankles. Also known as footballer's ankle or athlete's ankle, the condition is most common in athletes who place extra stress on the ankle cartilage. Of course, anterior ankle impingement can affect everyone, so understanding the causes, signs, and treatment options is smart. Using this guide, you will become more familiar with anterior ankle impingement.
To understand how the disorder develops, you need to understand the anatomy of the ankle.
The ankle is a joint that has two bones. The talus and the tibia work together, gliding over one another, to help you move the joint. Cartilage is found in between these bones, creating a protective cushion between the bones, which help the joint work in a smooth, comfortable manner.
During general movement of the lower leg and foot, the shin and foot move closer to one another. This places pressure on the tibia, which places pressure on the talus. Excess pressure or continuous force of the lower leg, foot, tibia, and talus cause the ankle cartilage to wear down.
If a large amount of cartilage has worn down, the tibia and talus will scrape and rub against one another, pinching connecting tissues and ligaments, which causes enormous pain.
Anterior ankle impingement develops after continuous, stressful compression of the lower leg and ankle joint, which can occur if you are an athlete. However, if you have suffered with multiple ankle sprains, you have a higher risk of anterior ankle impingement.
Every person is different, so you may experience different symptoms from another person with anterior ankle impingement, but chronic pain and discomfort in the ankle joint is a common sign of the disorder.
The pain may resemble a dull ache when the ankle is at rest. During movement and compression of the ankle, the pain will be sharp and severe in the front of the ankle joint.
In most cases, the pain increases when completing certain activities, such as walking, running, squatting, lunging, and jumping.
Patients with anterior ankle impingement may also feel tenderness in the ankle joint. Swelling around the ankle is also common. Lastly, if you have the condition, you may notice a slight clicking noise or sensation when moving your ankle in certain ways.
If you believe you have anterior ankle impingement, your doctor will order a series of x-rays and MRIs. These images show bone spurs in hidden areas of the ankle joint, which are common signs of impingement. The detailed imaging tests are also capable of showing inflammation of the ankle cartilage and connecting ligaments.
Once diagnosed, your doctor will design a treatment plan for your specific case of anterior ankle impingement.
In less severe cases, rest may be ordered. You should not place excess pressure on the ankle joint during this time. This period of rest will reduce inflammation of the ankle. Anti-inflammatory medications may also be prescribed to ease swelling and manage pain.
If tests show you have large spurs in your ankle and severe loss of cartilage, ankle arthroscopy may be recommended. An estimated 70 to 90 percent of patients experience enormous relief after undergoing ankle arthroscopic surgery. During this surgical procedure, your doctor makes a small incision in the ankle. This allows the doctor to remove damaged bone and tissue.
Living with anterior ankle impingement is possible, but it can alter your quality of life. This guide and an ankle doctor will help you understand the disorder so you can receive the best treatment possible.