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  • Due to injury, ligaments and tendons can become impinged at the front of the ankle.

  • Anterior ankle impingement is also referred to as ‘footballer’s ankle’.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain felt in a band at the front of the ankle

  • Swelling

  • Tenderness on palpation of the front of the ankle

  • Pain on moving the foot up and down

  • Possible a bony lump or growth palpable at the front of the ankle

  • Weakness

  • Clicking

What Causes It?

  • Repetitive ankle sprains

  • Thickened ligaments and tendons

  • Repeated kicking can cause the talus to bang against the tibia, resulting in a bone spur, which can irritate and impinge soft tissue.

  • Bony growths which can adhere to the capsule causing restriction and impingement

  • Common in sports which involve repetitive dorsiflexion (football, dancing, cricket wicket keepers, baseball catchers)

How to Self Manage

  • Rest from aggravating activities involving forced dorsiflexion

  • Anti-inflammatory medication (if not contraindicated)


General anterior ankle impingement should improve with conservative physiotherapy management.

If pain persists, a cortisone injection to the area is an option.

If there is a bone spur, x-ray can confirm it.

Arthroscopic removal is an option. Crutches may be required post-surgery for 1-2 weeks.  Return to sport should be possible within 4-6 weeks.

How Physio Helps

  • Joint mobilisation of the ankle, subtalar and foot joints

  • Electrotherapy

  • Massage and deep transverse frictions

  • Acupuncture

  • Ankle mobility exercises

  • Strengthening exercises

  • Proprioceptive exercises

  • Review of activity, modification of, and then progressive return to sport

  • Referral for x-ray or orthopaedic investigation if necessary

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