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Patient Question:

Excessive Ankle Popping

My left ankle pops excessively; almost every other step I take on some occasions. There is no real pain involved, and I've read that this is not a concern. If this is true, is there anything I can do to stop the popping as a mere "annoyance"?

Dr. Lin

Dr. Johnny L. Lin:

Many factors can cause a benign "popping" in the ankle. If it is not accompanied by pain, swelling, or giving way, then it is most likely of little concern. If a physician were to try to treat the "popping", then the exact cause would have to be determined. A careful physical exam is the best test, but additional imaging studies such as an MRI, CT scan or X-ray can also be obtained. Unfortunately, most of the imaging studies are geared at detecting areas of damage which would NOT be present in benign cases of "popping." Therefore, most causes for benign "popping" of the ankle cannot be accurately determined.

Treatment Options:

Treatment for ankle "popping" is difficult because the exact cause is often times undetermined. Bracing or taping may help with "popping" because it limits the movement of the ankle, but should not be routinely done because the ankle may become dependent on the brace or taping. In general, a program of stretching and strengthening is beneficial for the overall function of the ankle, but the predictability of it stopping the "popping" is uncertain. In the end, it is best to leave the benign "popping" in the ankle alone and focus more on the overall function of the ankle. If there is concern over whether or not the "popping" is truly benign, than a full consultation with a physician should be obtained.

For more information about Dr. Lin and the Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush orthopedic physicians that specialize in patient care, education and research, call 877 MD BONES (877.632.6637) or schedule an appointment.

This information is not intended as a substitute for the professional advice of your physician, nor to be a complete description of every aspect of a condition, nor a complete list of possible side effects of any medication. Decisions concerning your treatment should be based on your own health care provider's evaluation of your personal health history and current condition. Consult your physician before following any of the suggestions on this website. All articles on this website represent the personal opinions of the individual authors and should not be construed as official policy of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush.

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