Annoying joint popping affects many people and can be a source of annoyance and concern. The ankle joint, in particular, is a region that seems especially susceptible to this phenomenon. The popping can come from two sources.
The first is the impingement of one of the edges of the Talus (the ankle bone) against the fibula. This most often arises from a loosening of the ligaments of the ankle. The most common injury that causes this is the classically “rolled” ankle. In severe ankle sprains, the ATF ligament (anterior talo fibular) loosens or tears completely resulting in less stable positioning of the talus bone through the gait cycle. With lateral ankle joint instability not only is popping possible, but the likelihood of rolling the ankle again increases. This kind of ankle popping can be a sign that ankle instability is increasing and can lead to arthritis of the ankle joint if untreated. This kind of joint popping often goes away after an ankle repair that tightens the damaged ligaments. While not essential for walking, such procedures can reduce chronic ankle pain, reduce the likelihood of future sprains, reduce the chance of developing ankle arthritis in addition to relieving the popping sound and sensation.
The second source of popping can come from a tight ankle capsule which creates a vacuum effect during the gait cycle. This is not unlike the sound produced when a person “cracks” their knuckles. This king of popping is not dangerous though it can be very annoying. In cases where a patient has severe popping an ankle arthroscopy can, in some cases, be used to remove redundant and tight ankle capsule which can relieve the popping sound and sensation. A pair of custom orthotics can, in some cases, improve the gait of patients’ which can relieve the frequency of popping.
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Don’t live another day with foot or heel pain! The team at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists has over 30 years of experience healing injured patients in Tarrant County and beyond. Contact us today by filling out our contact form, or give us a call at (817) 481-4000.