Ankles make a clicking noise due to air pockets in the fluid that lubricates the ankle joint, small particles swishing around inside the joint, soft tissue damage, tendon movement or scar tissue, according to Octopus Clinic. A sprained ankle can also cause clicking noises in the joint.
Painless air pockets pop when pressure changes in the joint fluid as the ankle moves. Small particles that move around do not cause pain in the ankle, notes Octopus Clinic. Soft tissue damage in the ankle causes clicking and pain, such as cartilage that breaks off and floats in the joint fluid. Tendons and scar tissue slip over bony bits of the ankle to cause a popping or clicking noise. The more painful causes of popping normally come from a sprained ankle that tried to heal. The most painful type of clicking occurs when there is bone-on-bone in the ankle joint, which makes walking very restricted after years of severe pain.
Popping and clicking noises in all joints are common, according to the Arthritis Foundation. The liquid that causes the noise is called synovial fluid, and normal popping noises can be caused by ligaments stretching over the bones. When noisy joints are associated with pain, patients should see a doctor because the pain could be a sign of a larger problem.