1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email

Ankle Pain

Information about ankle pain causes and treatment

By

Updated April 04, 2014

Ankle pain is an extremely common complaint with many causes. It is important to accurately diagnose the cause of your symptoms so you can get appropriate treatment. If you have ankle pain, some common causes include:
  • Arthritis
    Arthritis causing ankle pain is much less common than degenerative changes in other joints. However, ankle cartilage can wear away and is often quite painful. Ankle arthritis is most common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or in patients with a previous injury to the ankle joint.

  • Sprains
    Ankle sprains cause an injury to the ligaments around the ankle. Sprains can cause significant ankle pain, as well as swelling and a feeling as though the joint may 'give-out.'
    • High Ankle Sprain A high ankle sprain is a specific type of ligament injury to the ankle. In a high ankle sprain, the ligaments on top of the joint are injured. The treatment and rehabilitation from a high ankle sprain is different from a usual sprain.

  • Tendonitis
    Tendonitis can occur in any of the tendons around the joint and cause ankle pain. Tendonitis occurs when the tendons, the attachments of muscles to the bone, become irritated and inflamed.
    • Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
      Posterior tibial tendonitis cause ankle pain on the inside part of the joint. If left untreated, posterior tibial tendonitis can lead to significant walking problems.

    • Achilles Tendonitis
      Achilles tendonitis causes ankle pain in the back of the joint. Achilles tendonitis is the most common type of tendonitis around the ankle joint.

  • Fractures
    Ankle fractures are a common type of broken bone. However, there any many different types of ankle fractures and each of these must be treated individually. Some ankle fractures can be treated like sprains, and others require surgery.

  • Cartilage Damage
    The cartilage of the ankle joint is susceptible to injury if you sustain an ankle sprain, fracture, or other traumatic injury. Cartilage injuries can run the spectrum from a limited area of damage to more widespread ankle arthritis.

  • Gout
    Gout is an uncommon cause of ankle pain. However, in patients who have a diagnosis of gout, it must be considered as a cause for new ankle pain.

When do you need to call your doctor about your ankle pain?
If you are unsure of the cause of your symptoms, or if you do not know the specific treatment recommendations for your condition, you should seek medical attention. Treatment of ankle pain must be directed at the specific cause of your problem. Some signs that you should be seen by a doctor include:

    • Inability to walk comfortably on the affected side
    • Injury that causes deformity around the joint
    • Ankle pain that occurs at night or while resting
    • Ankle pain that persists beyond a few days
    • Inability to bend the ankle
    • Swelling of the joint or the calf area
    • Signs of an infection, including fever, redness, warmth
    • Any other unusual symptoms

What are the best treatments for ankle pain?
Treatment depends entirely on the cause of the problem. Therefore, it's important that you understand the cause of your symptoms before beginning treatment. If you are unsure of your diagnosis, or the severity of your condition, you should seek medical advice before beginning any treatment plan.

Some common treatments for ankle pain are listed here. Not all of these treatments are appropriate for every condition, but they may be helpful in your situation.

  • Rest: The first treatment for most common conditions that cause ankle pain is to rest the joint, and allow the acute inflammation to subside. Often this is the only step needed to relieve ankle pain. If the symptoms are severe, crutches may be helpful.

  • Footwear Modifications, Orthotics, and Braces: Depending on the type of injury, footwear modifications, braces, or orthotics may all be potentially helpful. The specific injury, and the problem needing to be addressed, will determine which of these may be helpful.

  • Ice and Heat Application: Ice packs and heat pads are among the most common treatments for ankle pain. So which one is the right one to use, ice or heat? And how long should the ice or heat treatments last? Read on for more information about ice and heat treatment.

  • Stretching: Stretching the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that surround the joint can help with some causes of ankle pain. A good routine should be established, and following some specific suggestions will help you on your way.

  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is an important aspect of treatment of almost all orthopedic conditions. Physical therapists use different modalities to increase strength, regain mobility, and help return patients to their pre-injury level of activity.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, commonly referred to as NSAIDs, are some of the most commonly prescribed medications, especially for patients with ankle pain caused by problems such as arthritis and tendonitis.

  • Cortisone injections: Cortisone is a powerful medication that treats inflammation, and inflammation is a common problem in patients with ankle pain. Discuss the possible benefits of a cortisone injection for your condition with your doctor.

  • Arthroscopic Surgery: Arthroscopic ankle surgery may be a treatment option for certain types of ankle pain. Arthroscopic surgery is a procedure that involves inserting a small camera inside the joint. Through other small incisions, instruments can be inserted to repair or remove damaged structures.
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Orthopedics
  4. Foot & Ankle
  5. Finding the Cause
  6. Ankle Pain

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.