Why Are My Ankles Snapping Or Clicking?

Last updated: 11-19-2020

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Why Are My Ankles Snapping Or Clicking?

Have you ever taken a step or stood up after being seated and heard your ankle snap or click? The sensation may not be painful, but it might feel a little odd or make you feel old. Is this snapping sound anything to be concerned with, and what’s causing that sound in the first place? We explain in today’s blog.
What’s Causing My Ankle Cracking?

A cracking or popping sound in your ankle joint can be caused by a number of different reasons, but the most common cause is a slipping tendon. When your tendon slips over the bone, it can often produce an audible popping sensation. The most common tendon slippage in the ankle joint is caused peroneal tendon subluxation.

You have two peroneal tendons in each of your ankle joints. One is longer than the other, and they both work to provide stability to the ankle so that you don’t roll or sprain your ankle as your move. These tendons sit in a groove within the bone and are held in place via a band of fibrous tissue known as the retinaculum. However, sometimes these tendons can shift a little and slip out of the groove, and in doing so they may produce a snapping sound. It is usually the shorter of the two peroneal tendons that shifts out of place.

There are a number of different causes of peroneal tendon slippage, including:

After an ankle sprain
A shallow groove in the bone
Abnormal muscle position
Loose ankle ligaments
Trauma to the foot
Weakened fibrous tissue band

Whatever is causing the problem, you will probably notice the snapping sensation when you’re standing up, running or going up or down stairs. It may also be accompanied by pain or discomfort, and it’s something you should bring up to your doctor or foot specialist, because the problem could get worse if left untreated.
Treating Clicking Of The Ankle

The good news is that treating a clicking ankle can typically be done with conservative measures, and surgery is only pursued if trauma to the ankle has caused other problems that need to be addressed. Some common conservative care treatment options include:

Physical therapy
Strength training
Balance exercises
Ankle bracing
Shoe orthotics

Odds are you’ll notice a reduction in the snapping sensation if you partake in one or more of these non-surgical treatment techniques, but if you’re not getting relief, surgery may be an option. During surgery, the surgeon will work to stabilize the ankle joint and make any adjustments to the bone groove to ensure the tendons remain where they should. After surgery, you’ll have the foot immobilized for a little while before progressing through your rehab schedule, which includes many of the conservative treatment options listed above.


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