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Anterior Ankle Impingement- Fact Sheet

What is a Anterior Ankle Impingement ?

Anterior ankle impingement is generally felt as pain at the front of the ankle with dorsiflexion movements (the foot moving up towards the shin). This can be annoying with activities such as walking and hiking.

What causes it?

2 main issues cause ankle impingement:
Ankle instability: uncontrolled joint glides of the ankle joint can lead to impingement at the front of the ankle. This can follow acute ligament tears, sprains or ruptures. Ankle arthritis or osteophytes (bone spurs): bony changes at the front of the bones of the ankle can lead to the edges of the bones pressing against each other with dorsiflexion.

Ankle impingement

Signs and Symptoms​ of Anterior Ankle Impingement ?

• Pain felt at the anterior ankle, with dorsiflexion movements
• Pain worse after activity, but better with rest
• Pain aggravated by walking uphill, squatting, hiking, walking down stairs (basically anything involving motion at the ankle).

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Ankle image

Treatment of Anterior Ankle Impingement ?

Activity modification or Rest: Coming up with strategies to reduce motion at the ankle for the time being can help reduce the irritation felt at the front of the ankle, allowing re-training of the ankles’ range of motion in a more pain free manner. Talk closely with your Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist to come up with a strategy to manage your exercise loads, so that your pain is manageable until it settles.

Ice, Compression, Elevation: Using ice immediately after activity may help reduce pain and inflammation. Ankle taping may also be beneficial in limiting movement and giving the ankle support for short-term periods.

Tailored Clinical Exercise: This is important to maintain strength and function of the ankle. For anterior impingement, this may involve some range of motion exercises, balance and proprioception exercises (co-ordination), and strengthening exercises of the foot and ankle muscles, including the calves.

Prognosis: depending on the cause of impingement, ankle impingement can generally be treatable through exercise and re-training of the ankle joint. However, if any bony changes are too severe, referral to a foot and ankle surgeon may be warranted.

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