What Is Ankle Impingement Syndrome?
Do you often experience pain in the front or back of your ankle when you flex your foot? It could be due to an ankle impingement syndrome. This syndrome is usually ascribed to inflammation, so the first treatment should aim to reduce that inflammation. The disease can become more severe when left untreated and can even lead to surgery if nothing works. Keep scrolling for the best ways to manage impingement syndrome to help keep discomfort at bay!
Ankle impingement syndrome is a condition that occurs when the soft tissues, bone, or other structures in the ankle joint are compressed. This can cause pain and discomfort and limit the ankle's range of motion. The condition may be caused by a variety of factors, including trauma, repetitive stress, or anatomical abnormalities. Common symptoms of ankle impingement syndrome include pain and tenderness in the ankle joint, swelling, stiffness, and instability or weakness in the ankle.
There are two main types of ankle impingement syndrome: anterior and posterior. Anterior impingement is caused by compression of the soft tissue structures at the front of the ankle joint, while posterior impingement is caused by compression of the soft tissue structures at the back of the joint. In both cases, the impingement can be caused by bone spurs or other bony growths that develop due to trauma or repetitive stress.
What Causes Ankle Impingement?
Ankle impingement is a common condition that can cause pain, swelling, and limited range of motion in the ankle joint. This condition typically occurs due to repetitive stress or overuse of the ankle joint, causing irritation and inflammation of the soft tissues surrounding the joint. The most common cause of ankle impingement is the bones of the ankle joint rubbing or pinching against each other. This can happen when the ankle joint is repeatedly flexed and extended, such as during sports or other physical activities.
Another cause of ankle impingement is related to the structure of the ankle joint. Some people may have an abnormally shaped ankle joint that can lead to impingement. This can be due to genetics or a previous injury to the ankle that resulted in changes to the joint structure. Additionally, ankle sprains or other ankle injuries can lead to ankle impingement. This is because the injury can cause scar tissue to form around the ankle joint, which can restrict movement and cause pain.
Certain occupations or activities can also increase the risk of developing ankle impingement. For example, people with jobs requiring them to stand for long periods or perform repetitive movements with their feet.
What are the symptoms of Ankle Impingement?
The symptoms of ankle impingement can vary depending on the severity and location of the impingement but typically include pain and tenderness around the ankle joint, swelling or inflammation, and difficulty performing certain movements or activities.
One of the most common symptoms of ankle impingement is pain around the front or back of the ankle joint. This pain may be sharp or dull and can be aggravated by certain movements, such as walking, running, or jumping. The affected area may also be tender to the touch and feel warm or swollen.
Another symptom of ankle impingement is stiffness or limited range of motion in the ankle joint. This can make performing certain activities, such as squatting, lunging, or bending the ankle, difficult. In severe cases, the affected joint may feel locked or "stuck," making moving almost impossible without experiencing extreme pain.
Other possible symptoms of ankle impingement include popping or clicking sounds when moving the ankle, weakness in the affected leg or foot, and a feeling of instability.
Ankle Impingement Treatment Plan
Ankle impingement typically entails several conservative treatments to reduce inflammation, such as icing and using a topical pain reliever. It is also recommended that you strengthen your ankle muscles with specific exercises to help prevent pain from recurring. If these passive treatments do not alleviate your symptoms, your doctor may suggest additional treatments or surgery. Your doctor will recommend a rehab program that's right for you after surgery—for most patients. It means starting physical therapy soon after surgery and gradually increasing their work on their own to strengthen their ankle before returning to regular activity.
Treating Anterior vs. Posterior
There are two types of ankle impingement, Anterior and Posterior. Anterior ankle impingement involves causing pain at the front of your foot, whereas posterior ankle impingement is when there is pain at the back of your foot. These can cause a lot of problems with how a person walks. If you feel any discomfort, remember to take it slow. We want people to know that an ankle sprain can range from bad to worse if one goes about daily life without proper medical attention or rest.
Regardless of the location where the pain is experienced, whether right in the ankle joint or in the lower leg area, treatment options for bone spurs and other causes involve the same sorts of conservative remedies.
Ankle impingement syndrome, also known as exercise-induced compartment syndrome, can be managed through several options. In this article, we've outlined them here to understand how pain can be controlled by reducing the swelling in the surrounding soft tissue.
Heat & Cold Therapy
When treating ankle impingement, you must understand that cold - unlike heat - decreases inflammation. Start with a cold therapy pack and hold it against your injured ankle, isolated from the rest of your leg, for around 20 minutes every couple of hours when you begin feeling pain. When your swelling has gone, you can introduce heat that will do much more than soothe your sore ankle. Microwavable heating pads applied to the injury for 20 minutes after some time helps relax muscles and gives instant relief from pain. But watch out if you're using heat in case you suffer from bruising or swelling, as it can worsen them!
Sacksy Thyme Hot & Cold therapy pad is perfect for Ankle Impingement Syndrome:
The Sacksy Thyme Hot & Cold therapy pad is easy to use and can be applied directly to the affected area. The pad can be heated in the microwave or cooled in the freezer depending on the required therapy. The pad is made up of high-quality materials, ensuring that it is comfortable to use and can last for a long time.
When dealing with ankle impingement, it's essential to get professional massages to avoid setbacks and help the healing process. Massaging the muscles will help encourage proper circulation back into compromised areas by increasing blood flow through the vessels and releasing any built-up knots. Don't apply pressure on bony prominences or directly over the injury, as rubbing here can worsen things. We recommend using cocoa butter before massages, so you don't further irritate your skin, and moisturize after massages for best results.
Reduced Activity Level
When you're accustomed to staying on your feet all day, resting might seem like the last thing you want to do. But to fully recover from active ankle impingement, you'll need to kick back and take a load off. If you let it go untreated, bone spurs will keep swelling up and give you chronic pain that won't go away on its own. So don't accept ankle instability!
Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen are the ibuprofen versions of your favorite over-the-counter pain relievers. They will not cure your ankle impingement but are a great addition to your treatment plan for quick pain relief. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting a new medication to ensure it won't interfere with any other medications you may be on and ensure there are no unintended side effects!
Strengthening exercises that increase your lower body strength can help reduce further injury to the ankle bone and reduce pain. Strong lower leg muscles will help maintain the ankle joint space to prevent compression and pain. Balance exercises are used to increase stability in your ankle. Lastly, remember to stretch your lower body and ankle to maintain the range of motion and flexibility of your joints.
Ice packs, therapists (and those fancy hot pack things) are great for treating those pesky injuries. Once the injury is evaluated, the therapist will put together a plan of action using one or more options: joint manipulation to promote mobility around the restrictive areas and muscle-strengthening exercises that do not aggravate the injured area. To clean up any aches and pains you might have, therapists can also work on scar tissue through several different massage techniques. To complete your home treatment program, expect to be given instructions on performing some targeted stretches and exercises that might help you better recover!
Working with a physical therapist, you've been injured in the past helps because they understand injuries take time to heal. They will help refresh your memory on which stretches or exercises have worked best in the past to get you back up and moving again! Having that information at your fingertips is much better than spending days ( or even months) figuring out what worked best for other people.
Surgery for Ankle Impingement
Not all people with ankle impingement require surgery, but those who suffer from more than two years of ongoing pain still can't find any relief and may have twisted their ankles beyond repair. Orthopedic surgeons can determine whether a patient is a candidate for surgery based on results gathered in diagnostic imaging such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as it reveals what parts of the ankle joint have been damaged and whether other conditions like arthritis or a fracture are present. The surgeons will perform an arthroscopy to determine which procedure is best for them - trimming off tissue growths or cutting off the entire joint altogether to prevent further damage!
Surgical treatment can involve debridement, which means removing the osteophytes (bone spurs) near the talus. This can be done through arthroscopy, which uses small incisions and quick recovery time. Your surgeon will tell you if arthroscopic or open surgery is best for your injury.
Healing Your Ankle Impingement
Ankle impingement is a curious condition that affects dancers, soccer players, and athletes – but it does not discriminate. Injuries like ankle fractures or sprains can cause it. Treatment begins at home with the proper equipment, such as braces, exercise, and bandages. If the home treatments do not relieve you, consult with your doctor regarding other possible courses of action to safely get you back in action!