This results in pain, inflammation and swelling.
Repeated kicking actions can cause the anklebone to hit the bottom of the shinbone, which can lead to a lump of bone (or bone spur) developing.
This bone spur may then begin to impact on the soft tissue at the front of the ankle, causing inflammation and swelling. The condition is most common in athletes who repeatedly bend the ankle upward (dorsiflexion), such as footballers, hence the name.
- pain and tenderness over anterior ankle joint
- pain on dorsiflexion and plantar flexion
- band of pain across anterior ankle when kicking a ball
- palpable bony lump on distal tibia or superior talus
- soft tissue techniques to stretch muscles crossing the ankle to relieve tension
- mobilisation of ankle joint
- Target antiinflammatory injection to reduce inflammation
- surgery to remove bony spurs
Footballers ankle can occur when the soft tissue such as the ligaments or tendons in the ankle become trapped between the bones in the foot. Footballer’s ankle in particular is concerned with the soft tissue at the front of the ankle and lends it name from being common amongst football players. This is due to the excessive kicking and up-ward bending and stretching of the foot within the sport which not only can thicken the ligaments due to frequent ankle injuries, but also can cause the bone in the ankle to hit the base of the shin bone causing a lump of bone to appear.
Footballers Ankle Symptoms
Patients who suffer footballer’s ankle often feel pain in the front of the ankle which is accelerated when kicking, stretching or bending the toes upwards. Patients have also described a clicking sensation in the ankle when bending and flexing the foot. It is common for the area to feel weakened and unable to bear weight in activities.
In many cases, a bone-like lump appears on the front of the ankle which can be either a bone spur or sometimes the trapped ligament in between the bones.
Footballers Ankle Diagnosis
In order to diagnose footballers ankle a doctor will give a full examination of the area and an X-ray is performed in order to confirm the diagnosis and to examine the bone spur causing the injury. A doctor may also recommend an MRI or CT scan is used to rule out any further injury or complications.
Footballers Ankle Treatment
In order to treat footballer’s ankle, surgery is usually required to clear the lump from the ankle through shaving or simply removing the bone spur completely. This is done by making an incision either side of the pinched ligament or bone.
Rest is crucial to allow the injury chance to heal once surgery has been performed on the area. It is important that no activity which increases pain or puts added pressure on the area is undergone to prevent further injury or increasing the healing period. The patient is usually given an ankle splint and crutches to keep the area immobilized and to prevent any over bearing weight being put on the area.
Surgery is often required to correct this injury and ensures that the heel returns back to its normal function most effectively.
Having the injury set in plaster cast and/or using crutches is also recommended to keep the area immobolised and to prevent weight being put on the injury through walking allowing the tendon to heal more effectively. One the injury is in its final stages the patient can begin to take gradual steps back to activity which can involve increase in weight bearing activity and strengthening exercises advised by a physiotherapist to keep the area strong and ensure flexibility once the patient has made a full recovery and has returned to sports. This should not be done without professional advice as a patient can run the risk of aggravating the area and increase the healing process. Within the first few months of returning to training, stretching exercises may be performed to keep the area stable and strong and can also help prevent the injury reoccurring.