The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Click, Pop, Wobble, Oh My! Curing Chronic Soccer Ankle Injuries with Arthroscopy

Posted by on Thursday, February 28th, 2013

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It’s almost impossible to play soccer for more than a day and not get injured. The sport is just too demanding on the feet and ankles. After all, it’s a prerequisite to kick things, including (more often than most players would like to admit) each other and the hard ground. Then there’s the sprinting, quick stops, jumping, twisting, foot planting, and landing. Of course, you’re wearing cleats while you do it all—shoes that are designed to grip the grass for traction. So when you misstep, land funny, twist too quickly, or otherwise need your foot to move, it often doesn’t. This causes twisting that can really wrench your ankle. Ankle sprains are extremely common in this sport. For an athlete who plays for a number of years, sprains may become chronic like Lindsay Lohan’s trouble with the IRS.  Eventually, scar tissue builds up in the joint, which causes a number of problems all on its own.

While it may not sound so bad, if you’ve ever had scar tissue or damaged cartilage in a joint you know that it can be debilitating. Imagine shoving rubber in a door hinge. The next time you try to close that door it’s going to be much more difficult. It probably won’t close all the way. Or, the joint may pinch the rubber, causing tears that pop or stretch. Now imagine that rubber is scar tissue or torn cartilage and that joint is your ankle. The tissue causes a lack of mobility in your joint. The popping and tearing causes pain and inflammation. All told, you’re probably not feeling much like playing soccer.

Ankle arthroscopy is an excellent and effective surgical treatment for removing damaged tissue from a chronically sprained ankle. It’s minimally invasive thanks to the technology of fiberoptics: tiny cameras with magnifying lenses that broadcast an image of the inside of your ankle onto a monitor. So the surgeon only has to make a tiny incision, watching his instruments at work on a screen. While he works, the doctor circulates sterile fluid in the joint to create more space for the arthroscope and instruments. Recovery is typically much quicker than with traditional surgery.

Ankle arthroscopy isn’t just effective for removing scar tissue or damaged cartilage. It is also used to remove bone spurs that may be inhibiting joint movement, and to treat pain in the back of the ankle (as occurs in some types of tendonitis).

Thanks to the wonders of technology, chronic ankle problems don’t always require major surgery (avoiding all of the many potential dangers and complications that go with it). If you’ve got a chronically weak, painful, or immobile ankle and think you might be a candidate for arthroscopy, visit The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine for an evaluation. Then get back on that field and score one for us.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.