A pinch can hurt a lot. Depending on what is injured, it can cause a lot of damage, too. If you’ve ever slammed your fingers in a door, you understand how a powerful pinch can hurt and limit your ability to use the affected limb. That principle holds true for soft tissues in your joints as well. When something in your ankle is damaged by a sudden compression, as in anterolateral ankle impingement, it isn’t able to function at full capacity.
Anterolateral ankle impingement is the painful compression of tissues in the front and to the side of the ankle joint. The soft tissues around your ankle bone get pinched and damaged. Over time this can cause a soft tissue build-up or scar, or even a bone spur that blocks movement. This injury is typically the result of a serious or repeated ankle sprain. Sudden forced flexion could also cause the problem. However it occurs, the pain from the damage limits your use of the joint, making it uncomfortable to rotate the foot at the ankle.
Usually the discomfort centers around the front and outside of the joint. Often the spot is tender to the touch and there may be swelling around the affected area. The pain typically worsens when you use the ankle, especially for weight-bearing activities. The longer the injury continues without treatment, the worse it gets. You will need to address the issue to avoid developing a chronic complication.
Repairing the Tissues
Usually conservative care is very effective for taking care of ankle injuries—and the sooner the issue is addressed, the more likely it will heal well. Our podiatrists will evaluate your joint, its range of motion, and point of discomfort. They will need to perform different tests to identify exactly what is injured and to what degree. Damage from anterolateral ankle impingement can be hard to identify on diagnostic images, but X-rays and MRIs can be helpful for ruling out other potential problems. Once the doctors have a clearer picture of the condition, they can begin treatment.
Your ankle will need to rest and avoid movements that could continue to damage the joint, so you may need to take a break from your activities. A brace or wrap can help stabilize the foot and limit movement, too, so that you’re less likely to strain it. If there is swelling, ice and some medications can help decrease that. Once your pain is mostly eliminated, the doctors may recommend a regimen of physical therapy to restore strength and range of motion to the joint. You might need to change your footwear as well, so that your shoes are more supportive. If conservative treatment fails, surgery is an option for relieving discomfort.
If your ankle is increasingly painful to the front and outer side, especially when you use the joint, you may have damaged the soft tissues there. You don’t have to let the injury restrict your activities, however. With intervention and care, you can restore your lower limbs to full health. Contact Country Foot Care for an appointment or more information about how our doctors can help you. Appointments can be made by calling our offices or by clicking the MAKE AN APPOINTMENT button at the top of this page.