Ankle impingement

It is important to note that ankle impingement typically occurs once a bony growth at either the front or rear part of the ankle bone where it meets with the shin bone limits the normal range of motion of the ankle.

Ankle impingement can occur anteriorly which affects the front part of the ankle or posteriorly which affects the rear part of the ankle depending on where the bony growth develops. Remember that the impingement can often occur right after an ankle sprain that does not heal correctly.

Anterior ankle impingement

The symptoms typically include pain that is felt at the side or front area of the ankle which does not go away even after the ankle sprain heals.

It is important to note that the ankle seems weakened and a distinctive sign is reproducing pain by forcing or passively moving the ankle into dorsiflexion or pointing of the foot upwards to stretch out the muscles at the rear of the leg.

Ankle impingement

When it comes to posterior ankle impingement, the pain is typically felt at the back of the ankle.

Posterior ankle impingement

The pain is typically felt at the back of the ankle. There is tenderness behind the base tip of the fibula bone. Take note that the pain is likely to be worse at the end of the movement when the foot is pointed downwards into plantar flexion with the foot pointed downwards. If the individual goes up on tiptoes, it can trigger pain. When an X-ray is taken, it will reveal the presence of bony spurs on the talus as well as the end of the tibia.

What are the causes?

The tissues in the ankle joint can end up trapped amidst the bones in the ankle. This is called as impingement and occurs once the ankle is flexed fully up or down. When it comes to posterior ankle impingement, it is quite common among ballet dancers and can be caused by a bony protrusion at the rear part of the ankle.

As for anterior ankle impingement, it can occur from a repeated ankle sprain as the ligaments start to thicken and become pinched amidst the bones. Once the torn ligament heals, the body forms excess scar tissue at the front and at the sides of the ankle joint, thus resulting to the formation of a meniscoid lesion.


The individual is required to rest for up to 4 weeks. A splint or plaster cast might be applied to limit movement of the affected ankle. Take note that cold therapy can be used to reduce the inflammation and pain. In most cases, the doctor will prescribe NSAIDs. If the conservative treatment does not work, surgery might be considered and will help restore the functionality of the affected leg. To learn to recognize and manage muscle and joint injuries including ankle impingement, register for first aid training today.


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