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What is Anterior Ankle Impingement and How to fix it?

Anterior Ankle Impingement: Anterior ankle impingement syndrome is a condition where bony projections form along joints, causing tremendous pain and largely responsible for limited joint movement. Often referred to as “athlete’s ankle” or “footballer’s ankle”, the bone projection or bone spur can form on top of the ankle bone, at the end of the shin bone or even on both ends.

During upward movement of the joint, the bone spur pinches the muscle tissues and ligaments, causing pain. Doctors who specialize in sports medicine in New York are likely required to treat the condition.


Though there are many possible causes of the condition, one of the most common include osteoarthritis and repetitive use of the ankle which causes trauma in the surrounding tissues.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease whereby the normal cartilage surrounding the ankle joint wears away with time. Without experienced sports medicine doctors working with you, this protective cartilage is likely to continue getting depleted with time.

The soft tissues and bone will increasingly become exposed, forcing the body to respond with protective changes in the bone structure, and painful warning signs and inflammation.

Ankle impingement is most common in athletes, including football players, or anyone engaging in sport related activities that involve repetitive upward movement of the ankle.

Symptoms and Diagnosis:

The typical symptoms of ankle impingement is pain felt over the front of the ankle joint, which is quite tender, especially during movement when the foot is pushed forward and upward towards the shin.

The pain resides when the foot is at rest. Other symptoms include repeated ankle sprains and noting that one’s ankle is swollen after an activity.

To make a diagnosis, the specialist will use an X-ray machine. Other additional tests including an MRI test, and an ultrasound or CT scan, may be carried out to confirm the diagnosis, and ensure that there are no other underlying problems.


The treatment of anterior ankle impingement is focused on relieving pain and decreasing inflammation in the affected area of the joint. This can be accomplished with ice application, heel wedges on shoes, ankle bracing, cortisone injection, oral anti-inflammatory medications, and rest.

Ankle bracing will be the treatment of choice for those individuals who’ve had repeated ankle sprains, and their ankles are in a fragile state. In cases where correct foot alignment is needed, orthotics will be implemented.

If these treatment methods are still not successful, a surgical procedure (ankle arthroscopy) will be considered in order to remove the bone projections (osteophytes) which cause the impingement.

Open debridement surgery will be considered if the osteophytes are large. This particular surgery has to be done carefully to prevent damaging the artery or the deep peroneal nerve located in this area.

Post-Treatment and Recovery:

So far, there’s been a good success rate on the number of arthroscopic debridement procedures done on bony and soft tissues in the joint. Compared to open debridement surgery, the recovery time is quite short, which means a lot to athletes who have to return to their sporting activities and earn a living.

With open debridement surgery, the patients do get instant pain relief but the number of those who return to their previous level of sporting activities dwindle.

After surgery, one is advised to wear a walking boot for a period of about two weeks, followed by a series of physical therapy to restore the range of motion and build strength and endurance.

Dr Maria

MD. Board Certified physician. Fellowship In Family Medicine UK. 8 years of medical experience in Lifestyle-related health disorders. Graduated from AIIMS – All India Institute Of Medical Science, INDIA

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