I'm checking on-line for any information I can find about how to treat "footballer's ankle". Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.
Footballer's ankle is also known by the medical term: medial ankle impingement. Medial refers to the side of the ankle closest to the other leg. The term "impingement" always tells us something is getting pinched.
With footballers ankle or medial ankle impingement, there are often bone spurs (osteophytes) on opposite bones that form the ankle (talus bone in the foot and tibia in the lower leg).
With certain movements of the ankle (e.g., dorsiflexion or moving the ankle toward the face), the opposing bumps of bone butt up against each other, stopping motion. Sometimes the deltoid ligament gets caught between the two bone spurs, another example of impingement.
Typical symptoms of impingement include ankle pain, a clicking sensation when moving the ankle, and loss of ankle motion. One other factor in the development of medial ankle impingement is a foot deformity called cavus. Cavus means high arch. The high arch is accompanied by a shift in the foot, which contributes to the problem.
What can be done about this problem? First, the cavus foot can be treated with a special shoe insert called an orthotic. This firm piece of plastic is molded in such a way to support the arch in a slightly lower position than normal for that person. Dropping the arch down this way helps realign the ankle and foot and may help resolve the impingement problem.
For patients who have an unstable ankle, bracing may be necessary. And for those who don't get better with orthotics or bracing, surgery to remove the bone spurs and any loose pieces of bone or cartilge may be needed.
The surgeon may tighten up loose ankle ligaments at the same time. In all cases, a reduction in exercise helps decrease the symptoms. And the reverse is also true: increased exercise makes things worse.
Results are usually very good and most people can get back to their daily activities fairly quickly. Athletes can anticipate a return to full sports participation in time. It will probably always be necessary to use at least the shoe orthotic if there is a cavus foot present. Supporting the foot in proper alignment may help prevent the bone spurs and resulting problems from coming back.
Arthur Manoli II, MD. Medial Impingement of the Ankle in Athletes. In Sports Health. November/December 2010. Vol. 2. No. 6. Pp. 495-502.
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