Ankle cartilage injuries

We’ll help you get back on your feet again

Jogging, climbing or hiking? No problem when your ankle is okay. But when ankle pain arises, you can no longer rely on your foot to take the strain. The culprit is often a cartilage injury in the upper ankle joint. If pieces of cartilage come off in the joint, this can cause the joint to weaken (arthritis).

At Schoen Clinic, we’ve set up our own foot consultation hours especially for this. During these hours, you’ll receive comprehensive advice from our specialists. Together, we’ll discuss which treatment is best for your symptoms.

Causes & symptoms

Why do we have cartilage?

Your upper ankle joint is made up of three bones: the shin bone, the fibula and the ankle bone. It’s stabilised by the tendons and ligaments. Between your joint bones is a very smooth and elastic layer of joint cartilage. This ensures that your bones don’t painfully rub against each other and lets you move around smoothly.

Ankle cartilage injuries: potential causes

Local cartilage injuries of the ankle joint and general joint wear (arthritis) are different. Local cartilage injuries are often caused by circulatory disorders, joint developmental disorders or trauma due to rolling over on the joint or slipping. While local cartilage injuries predominantly affect younger people, arthritis is typically a disorder in the later stages of life.


Symptoms may be evident after an accident, particularly for athletes, or you may suddenly feel like the area around the ankle cartilage injury is blocked without an accident having happened. Even if the pain is tolerated well or intermittent, we recommend visiting a consultant as soon as possible.

Ankle cartilage injury: symptoms indicating an injury

Symptoms vary according to the type of your cartilage injury. Not every cartilage injury causes pain, either, because the cartilage itself doesn’t have any pain fibres and therefore cannot feel anything.

With an advanced cartilage injury, every movement or step will cause pain. Sports are completely out of the question. A feeling of the area around your joint being blocked may also occur. This is a sign that pieces of cartilage have come loose from the joint surface and are blocking the joint, like a pebble between two gears.

In case of ankle pain, swelling, a limitation in movement and reduced endurance, we offer special foot consultation hours at Schoen Clinic.


Diagnosis: find the exact causes of your symptoms

During the foot consultation hours, our specialist will ask you targeted questions to uncover initial evidence of a potential cartilage injury. In a subsequent examination, we’ll assess the shape of your foot, the mobility of your ankle joint, the stability of your ligaments and the sensitivity to pressure. X-rays of your ankle joint will also be taken, sometimes of your foot while standing as well. This allows us to carry out a precise analysis of your bones and the positioning of your joints under stress.

Magnetic resonance imaging visualises the circulatory system

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of your hind foot is normally required to let us see exactly where the damage is located. It allows us to see how advanced the damage to your cartilage is as well. Using these images, we can also assess the circulation of the surrounding bone. If we establish that you have severe bone damages, we carry out computer tomography (CT) in addition.