Footballer’s Ankle

At Capital Orthopaedics, our team of consultant surgeons, radiologists, physiotherapists and sports medicine professionals are highly experienced in treating ankle injuries.

Footballer’s ankle – or anterior ankle impingement – causes pain in the front of your ankle, especially when you lift your toes upwards. It can be very debilitating, causing pain as you walk uphill or upstairs, run or play sports.

Using state-of-the-art diagnostic scans in one of our three central London locations, we will assess your ankle injury and get you started on a treatment plan in the quickest time possible.

Whether your ankle condition needs targeted physiotherapy, injections or surgery, the treatment is always focused on minimal intervention, with fast, effective recovery.

If you have an ankle injury, or have any problems with your ankle joint, contact the Capital Orthopaedics team.

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What is Footballer’s Ankle?

Anterior ankle impingement is the pinching of bone spurs and soft tissues in the front of your ankle.

Your shin bone (tibia) glides and pivots on a dome-shaped bone called the talus. The ankle joint is activated and stabilised by muscles, tendons and ligaments, and is encased in a soft capsule containing lubricating fluid.

Repetitive kicking, bending or stretching your foot can cause soft tissues in your ankle to catch and become pinched, making them swollen, inflamed and thickened.

This type of repetitive motion leads to bony outgrowths forming on the front of the talus and tibia, which pinch the soft tissues as you flex your ankle.

Types of Footballer's Ankle

There are two types of footballer’s ankle:

Bony footballer’s ankle: as the shin bone jars against the ankle bone, it reacts by trying to heal itself – producing a bone spur. This bony lump causes tendons, ligaments or other soft tissues to get trapped when your foot is pulled upwards (dorsiflexion).

Soft tissue footballer’s ankle: soft tissue (tendons, ligaments or joint capsule) becomes pinched between the talus (ankle bone) and the tibia (leg bone). It can occur as a result of repetitive kicking or flexing, or after an ankle sprain – where scar tissue on a torn ligament makes it thicker.

What Causes Footballer's Ankle?

It doesn’t just happen to footballers.

Anterior ankle impingement is most often brought about by activities that involve repetitive kicking or extreme upward or downward flexing of the foot. Dancers are particularly prone to this condition, but it also affects athletes in other sports including volleyball, rugby and sprinting.

Anyone who has had an ankle sprain can suffer from anterior ankle impingement, particularly if you have chronic ankle instability.

What Are The Symptoms of Footballer's Ankle?

  • Pain: in the front of your ankle, particularly when you pull your toes upwards, or step forward into a lunge. It can be painful every time you take a step or accelerate suddenly.
  • Swelling: particularly after exercise.
  • Clicking: a clicking, grinding or catching sensation as you flex or point your foot
  • Weak and unable to weight bear in some activities

How Can Footballer's Ankle Be Treated?

Diagnosing footballer’s ankle requires a careful physical and biomechanical examination, and advanced imaging to confirm the diagnosis. X-rays and CT scans are used to show bone damage and bone spurs, while MRI or ultrasound provide images of soft tissue damage and swelling.

How Capital Orthopaedics Can Help Treat Your Footballer's Ankle

Our team of consultants and physiotherapists, led by renowned orthopaedic surgeon Simon Moyes, offer the least invasive treatments designed to help you recover quickly and effectively.

Soft tissue ankle impingement
Physiotherapy: exercises and manipulation to improve mobility in your ankle joint.

Injections: fluid injections to increase space in your ankle joint, steroids to reduce inflammation and plasma to aid healing.

Surgery: in some cases, thickened or displaced tissue may require keyhole surgery.

Bony ankle impingement
If a bone spur has formed in your ankle, our expert consultant surgeons use arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery to remove the lump of bone, and repair or trim any thickened tissue.

Get in Touch

Do you have pain or discomfort in your ankle? Have you suffered from a sprained ankle or ankle instability?

Founder Simon Moyes and the Capital Orthopaedics team offer consultations with top orthopaedic surgeons, state-of-the-art diagnostics, and minimally invasive surgery at the internationally renowned Cromwell Hospital and two London clinics. Rehabilitation and physiotherapy treatment is provided in our dedicated sports medicine studios.

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Other Ankle Conditions We Treat

Ankle Osteoarthritis

Repetitive impact, injury or ageing can lead to damage to the surfaces of your bones. The slick cartilage coating can wear away or get torn – and the exposed bones begin to degenerate. As your bones try to heal, they can also form lumps called bone spurs. Osteoarthritis in your ankle leads to soft tissue damage, pain, swelling and instability as the muscles around it weaken.

Posterior Impingement

Pain in the back of your ankle may be caused by soft tissue getting pinched between the bones as you point your toes. It’s common in ballet dancers, footballers, gymnasts and fast bowlers, but can also be the result of a sprain or chronic ankle instability. In some cases, it can be treated conservatively; bone spurs and thickened tissues may require surgery.

Peroneal Subluxation

The tendon that runs under the bony lump on the outside of your ankle can get displaced – particularly after a sprain. This can lead to pain and swelling, along with instability. Physiotherapy to build up the muscles and improve stability can solve the problem. Arthroscopic surgery is often needed to fix the tendon back in place.

Torn Ankle Ligament Injury

A sprained ankle can usually be treated with physiotherapy to build up strength while the torn ligament heals. Serious tears, chronic ankle instability, or those associated with other conditions may need surgery to repair ligaments, smooth damaged bone and stabilise your ankle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Book an Appointment with an Orthopaedic Specialist

The Capital Orthopaedics team is made up of highly experienced medical professionals – from Mr Simon Moyes, the renowned orthopaedic consultant surgeon, to physicians, nurses, anaesthetists and physiotherapists.
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