Front of Ankle Pain: Anterior Ankle Impingement Syndrome(Footballer’s Ankle)

Anterior ankle impingement or “footballer’s ankle” is a common source of anterior ankle and foot pain. This ankle impingement is caused by the thickening of fascia and scar tissue in the ankle joint, which diminishes the overall health of the foot and ankle. Ankle impingement can lead to other conditions or syndromes of the foot and ankle such as ankle tendonitis, sprain, and eventually arthritis. Treatment to address the ankle impingement is vital to foot and ankle health.

 What is Impingement?

Impingement occurs when the foot and ankle joint no longer glide and slide properly, and over time scar tissue and stiffness causes a pinching effect on the soft tissues of the anterior ankle. This impingement causes conditions such as extensor tendonitis, arthritis, and foot pain.


A sudden traumatic ankle sprain of repetitive compression to the anterior ankle such as sprinting can cause injury between the talus and tibia. A chronically stiff ankle lacking dorsiflexion is the most likely cause of functional impingement, while a previous ankle sprain that didn’t receive proper treatment is a major risk factor. Either condition can lead to long-term impingement causing pain and arthritis from bone spurs.


Symptoms of anterior ankle impingement include:

  • Sudden sharp pain in the anterior ankle during dorsiflexion dominant exercises (lunge)
  • Ankle stiffness and nighttime aching (rest)
  • Swelling
  • Locking of ankle
  • Tenderness to touch

These symptoms of anterior ankle impingement can be created by a physio exam or quick self-assessment.


Treatment of anterior ankle impingement syndrome should be focused on restoring normal mechanics between the talus and tibia. If this treatment goal is achieved, then ankle pain from the impingement of soft tissue will be decreased and the health of the ankle can be restored.


YOU should be able to move the way you’d like to move without experiencing pain. YOU should be able to experience freedom and energy knowing there’s nothing holding back from giving your life 110%. Dr. Dean would like to learn more about your challenges with a quick phone or email before beginning treatment. Contact him today.