Ankle Joint Manipulation

Ankle Joint Manipulation

 The general public is aware of the benefits of joint manipulation directed at the spinal column. However, many would be surprised to know that manipulation of the arm and leg joints can be very successful in treating pain and stiffness. A good example of this is persistent ankle stiffness following a twisted ankle.

If you have ever suffered a lateral ankle sprain, or a twisted ankle, the subsequent pain, stiffness, and swelling probably lasted over the course of 2-6 weeks. Interventions such as ice, leg elevation, and mild exercise can facilitate recovery in these early stages.

However, in roughly 3 percent of cases, some of the issues persist for months after the initial injury. Although the initial discoloration and swelling largely go away, limited dorsiflexion (i.e., ankle bending upward) and pain in the outer front part of the ankle continue to prevent resumption of recreational, and sometimes even daily, activities.

Patients suffering from such symptoms may have what is known as ankle impingement. This involves an entrapment, or “pinching,” of hypertrophic (enlarged) or torn soft tissues in the outer front part of the ankle.

A single can release some, if not all, of the restriction in these tissues. This procedure involves only temporary, mild discomfort for most patients using the skilled movement of the practitioner’s hands. Sometimes a second manipulation is required to fully release the adhesions, but rarely a third.

Often times, addressing the pain and stiffness will automatically improve the stability of the ankle joint and prevent future injury. Exercises designed to promote the speed of the ankle muscles can also aid in injury prevention.


Brennan, SA, Rahim F, Dowling J, Kearns SR. Arthroscopic debridement for the soft-tissue ankle impingement. Ir J Med Sci 2012;181:253-256

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