Ankle Sprain

By Jonathan Stiffler, Sport Center Coordinator in Collaboration with JOI Physicians.

Ankle Sprain or Harmless Popping in Your Ankle?

Cracking and popping of joints in the ankle can be painful. This can cause concern for patients who are experiencing a sprained ankle. However, for others, popping joints can give some pain relief and reduced pressure to improve motion. So who is right?

image of runner with Ankle Sprain while running

Ankle pain can occur when doing exercises.

How to Determine an Ankle Sprain?

Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute clinicians are frequently asked about popping and clicking in joints located in the ankle. This is typically due to patients’ fear of joint pathology and further injury, such as ankle sprains. The common follow-up questions to these concerns are:

  • Was the ankle pop painful?
  • Did the ankle swell up?
  • Is there numbness or tingling in the ankle?

If the ankle pop is painful and followed up with trauma, it could cause ligament damage in the area.  If you recently twisted their ankle and is now experiencing painful and regular popping in the affected ankle. This could be due to moderate or severe damage to the ankle’s supportive ligaments and may require immobilization to heal and protect from further injury.

Image of a lateral ankle showing bones and ligaments with labels for anterior talofibular ligament, anterior calcaneofibular ligament, and posterior calcaneofibular ligament

Ankle Ligaments

Is It Bad to Pop Your Ankles?

Patients who experience pain relief from popping and cracking their ankle joints proceed with caution to avoid becoming a chronic popper. If frequent and daily popping is required to reduce pain and stiffness in the ankle, the next step should be figuring out what is causing the pain and stiffness to begin with. A common example of this is patients who crack their backs. Temporary relief can be achieved with cracking. However, the issue’s root is most likely resolved with exercise, attention to posture and body mechanics, and stabilization training.

Ankle Sprain or Harmless Cracking of Ankle?

Cracking within ankle joints is common and frequently harmless in most patients. The concern is warranted if a recent traumatic injury or event occurred, and subsequent painful cracking and popping are experienced. Lastly, it is important to be mindful of our bodies, remain aware of new occurrences or changes, and KEEP MOVING!

How To Treat Ankle Pain With JOI Physical Therapy

image of physical therapist treating ankle sprain

JOI Rehab treats ankle pain

When treating ankle pain patients, JOI Rehab clinicians will commonly focus on range-of-motion with active and passive mobility exercises. Another form of therapy is strength training. This will help with the stability of the ankle. Balance position sense is another key factor in treating ankle pain and preventing patients from losing their sense of balance due to ankle injuries. Different pairs of shoes may also help with healing ankle pains. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is keeping up with your health. Weight loss and a healthy BMI are always recommended in the treatment of ankle pain.

If you want to learn more, please read these related articles: High Ankle Sprains and Ankle Braces. 

Related Video: Basic Ankle Ankle Exercises Video 

  • To schedule an appointment for physical or occupational therapy, call 904-858-7045 or call any of the 12 area JOI Rehab Centers.
  • Finally, to learn more about Direct Access to Physical Therapy without seeing an MD, please read this ARTICLE.

JOI Fracture and Injury Care Services

Please call 904-JOI-2000 to schedule with a Foot and Ankle Specialist or click below. 

By: Jon Stiffler, PTA

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