FEATURED JOINT: ANKLE
Did you just “roll your ankle?” Or, maybe, nothing happened to it and you are feeling this weird “pinch” in the front of your ankle? What is it? The ankle is a very interesting joint in my opinion. It is a little more complex than most people think. Let’s chat about the ankle.
The most common injury to the ankle is a lateral ankle sprain. A lateral ankle sprain is associated with rolling your foot inward. This can result in pain on the outside of your ankle. Sometimes, it is associated with swelling. In more severe cases, bruising. This is usually the result of an overstretching of ligament(s). Ligaments attach bones to bones and add stability. When one is disrupted, it can not only be painful, but very “unstable,” meaning you feel like you are going to roll your ankle again and again.
Does a pinch in the front of your ankle sound familiar? This is usually something called anterior (front) ankle impingement. You may be able to recreate this pain in a deep squat or lunge. Going down stairs can hurt as well. Impingement means that you are “pinching” a structure, likely bony or soft tissue. This can also occur in the back of the ankle which may be recreated with pointing your toes downward. Impingement in the back of the ankle is far less common, but can be seen frequently in dancers.
Maybe you have pain in the back of your ankle that doesn’t sound like impingement, specifically in that big string-like tendon that attaches to your heel. That’s your Achilles tendon. It is the attachment of your calf muscles into a bone called your calcaneus. You likely have an Achilles tendinopathy. A tendinopathy is a chronic irritation of a muscle insertion which leads to degeneration. Achilles tendinopathies are common in runners, walkers, hikers, etc. People who have them can usually recreate their pain by performing a heel raise.
Is the outside of your ankle snapping with or without pain? There is another group of muscles called your peroneals that can irritate your ankle. Sometimes, you can see the tendons rolling over the bone on the outside of your ankle. Don’t fret if you don’t have pain. This can be normal, especially if you have a history of an old ankle sprain that may have affected something called your retinaculum, a structure that holds the tendons in place. If you have pain, though, you may have a tendinopathy of the peroneal muscles.
Any of these sound familiar to your pain? Don’t self-diagnose. Talk to me or my coworkers for free first either through email or the phone. If you need an evaluation, we can let you know.