Anterior ankle pain is a very common pain that occurs to the front side of the ankle. Symptoms are often aggravated when forcing the foot upwards (dorsiflexion). Often the impingement occurs as a result of a bone spur (osteophyte) at the front of the ankle joint, although impingement can also occur secondary to soft tissue. Ankle impingement is commonly associated with ankle arthritis, but it can also occur in soccer players, dancers, and other individuals who repetitively load the ankle joint. Treatment can be non-operative (i.e.wearing shoes with a slight heel, limiting activities, taking anti-inflammatory medication, taping the ankle, etc.) or operative (i.e. removing the bone spur and/or soft tissue). As the bone spur has usually formed in response to some other stimulus (ex ankle arthritis), it is not uncommon for the bone spur to recur after it has been removed surgically.
How to recognize the anterior ankle syndrome that is usually accompanied by sharp or dull pain?
First of all, let us tell you that pain in the anterior ankle can vary and it never comes alone. Actually, a complex of different symptoms that form the anterior ankle inflammation. As a matter of fact, the inflammation process is in most cases due to a trauma or to chronic condition such as any form for arthritis. Check out now the main symptoms that come together:
- Pain on the front and/or outside of the ankle joint
- A feeling of ankle instability
- Decreased ankle range of motion when stretching your toes up toward your shin
- Pain at the end-range of stretching your toes toward your shin
- Tenderness at the front of the ankle when touched
- With posterior ankle impingement, you may experience
- Pain on the back of your ankle, especially during activities that involve pointing your toes
- Decreased range of motion when pointing your toes
- Tenderness on the back of the ankle when touched
How can the physiotherapy help you with anterior ankle pain?
Once you have been diagnosed with ankle impingement, your physical therapist will work with you to achieve your functional goals, and help you return to activities you previously performed without pain. Your treatment may include:
- Pain Management.
Your physical therapist may use ice massage or electrical stimulation, if you have inflammation causing pain. Your physical therapist may ask you to reduce your activity level for a while, so the inflammation in your ankle can decrease.
- Range-of-Motion Exercises.
Your physical therapist may gently move your ankle through its available range of motion, or teach you the proper motions to move through in order to increase its mobility and decrease stiffness. If necessary, your physical therapist may perform joint mobilizations—skillfully moving the joint in a particular direction to improve its motion.
- Muscle-Strengthening Exercises.
It is important to strengthen the muscles acting on the foot, ankle, and lower leg to promote proper joint mechanics. When the muscles are strong and working properly, the joint space in the ankle is maintained, which decreases the risk of compression of soft or bony tissues.
- Balance Exercises.
Your physical therapist may give you balance exercises to challenge the way your body reacts to outside forces. These exercises make you more aware of where your body is in space. Improving your balance will lead to a more stable ankle, because your body can more easily respond to challenges.
- Functional Training.
Once your physical therapist has helped decrease your ankle pain and inflammation, you will progress to more activity-specific tasks. Your physical therapist will help ensure that your ankle can withstand challenges during occupational, sport, or artistic activities.
Your physiotherapist can advise when it is appropriate to begin the initial exercises and eventually progress to the intermediate, advanced and other exercises. As a general rule, addition of exercises or progression to more advanced exercises should take place provided there is no increase in symptoms.
Make sure not to plan rehabilitation for anterior ankle pain treatment is conducted to a professional medical opinion and you do not self-cure yourself. Joint solutions are numerous, but they are not supposed to be taken without an expert medical prescription