Footballer’s Ankle Treatment

Anterior Ankle Impingement

This condition occurs when the ligaments or tendons in the ankle become trapped between the bones – causing pinching, or impingement. Anterior impingement is when the pinching occurs at the front of the ankle and can be caused when ligaments in the joint become thicker as a result of repeated ankle sprains. Any soft tissue that is thicker than normal can become pinched between the bones, causing pain, inflammation and more swelling. Another cause of anterior impingement is a bone spur at the ankle bone (talus) or the shinbone (tibia). Repeated kicking actions can cause the ankle bone to hit the bottom of the shinbone, which can lead to a lump of bone (or bone spur) developing. The bone spur may then begin to jab into the soft tissue at the front of the ankle, causing inflammation and swelling. This condition is common in athletes who repeatedly bend the ankle upward (dorsiflexion), such as baseball catchers, basketball and football players, and dancers.

Anterior Ankle Symptoms

This condition is characterised by pain in the front part of your ankle, which is likely to feel worse as you pull your toes up towards you. You may also experience a clicking sensation in the front of your ankle when moving your foot up and down. Your ankle may also feel weak, as though you can’t trust it to remain stable during certain activities.

Anterior Ankle Impingement Diagnosis

Your surgeon will look for tenderness and swelling at the front of your ankle. They will then check to see if the pain increases when you squat or pull your toes upward. X-rays will be taken to see if it is a bone spur that is causing the impingement.

Anterior Ankle Surgery

Two small incisions are made either side of the impingement area, and using an arthroscope, the surgeon will identify the thickened tendons or ligaments. A small shaver is used to clear away thickened or inflamed tissue. If there is a bone spur on the ankle bone or the shinbone, it will be removed – sometimes a new incision has to be made directly over the spur to make removal easier. You will be given an ankle splint and will be on crutches for one to two weeks, during which time you will gradually be able to put weight on your foot. You should be able to return to normal activities in four to six weeks.

When Is Surgery Required?

When conservative treatments fail, surgery might be considered. A number of surgical techniques are available to correct flexible flatfoot, and one or several procedures may be utilised to relieve symptoms and enhance foot function. Your surgeon will consider:

  • The extent of your deformity using medical imaging
  • your age
  • your activity levels, and other factors

To decide what surgical procedure is most appropriate in your case. The recovery period will vary dependent on the procedure that has been performed.