Types of Ankle Impingement

There are two types of ankle impingement—anterior ankle impingement and posterior ankle impingement—characterised respectively by bone spurs growing at the front and back of the ankle. Both conditions display similar symptoms like soreness, swelling of the ankle and restricted range of motion.

Causes of Ankle Impingement

Ankle impingement typically occurs as a result of ankle sprains and repeated ankle injuries.

Factors that increase the risk of ankle impingement are:

  • Inadequate rehabilitation or improper healing of ankle injury
  • Activities that involve repeated dorsi-and-plantarflexion (jumping, squatting, kicking)
  • Using inappropriate technique and/or footwear during activities
  • Inadequate warm-ups and cool-downs
Diagnosis of Ankle Impingement

As a sports injury, an ankle impingement is typically diagnosed by checking the patient’s symptoms and carefully maneuvering and palpating the ankle to locate the area of maximum pain and soreness.

Imaging tests such as an X-ray, ultrasound or MRI can help confirm diagnosis and show the orthopaedic surgeon the actual location of the scar tissues and bone spurs, and the severity of the injury. An MRI is also beneficial to rule out other medical conditions with similar symptoms such as stress fractures, osteochondral lesions and tarsal coalitions.

Treatment for Ankle Impingement

As with most sports injuries, the first-line treatment for ankle impingement involves the PRICE method: Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Oral and injectable medicines can be prescribed to alleviate pain and inflammation. Patients may also undergo physical therapy sessions to restore stability and range of motion to the ankle.

In more complex and severe cases, the orthopaedic surgeon may recommend surgical treatments instead.

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