What Are Common Causes And Treatments For Ankle Pain?

The ankle is the region where the leg and the foot meet. More so, the ankle is also responsible for helping the feet to accommodate the overall weight of the body. As such, the ankle is often susceptible to pain issues and more. Before you can start treating any ankle issue, it’s vital that you gain insight into the nature of the problem. Ankle pain can be a significant issue that can affect one’s ability to perform their day to day obligations.  The nature of the pain often relates to the cause of the injury or ankle damage.

The common cause of ankle pain is a sprain. A sprain is an injury that occurs around the ligaments, which are specialized tissue that connects the bones of the ankle. Furthermore, an ankle sprain can also happen when the ankle any twists outside its range of normal motion. The pain can also occur when a fracture occurs in one of the bones in the ankle. The fibula is the smallest bone in the ankle – which makes it prone to damage.

Diagnosis of Ankle Pain

Usually, the telltale sign of ankle pain is discomfort or pain around the ankle area. More so, the diagnosis process often relies on patient information such as medical history. The medical history might include procedures to differentiate the injury from issues such as strains and bone fractures.

Aside from pain, any damage on the ankle will usually lead to problems such as bruising, swelling, and more. The individual might also be unable to wear any tight forms of clothing around the ankle area. If you cannot place any weight on the ankle, or you come across redness or swelling, then you have ankle pain. Ensure that you avoid putting pressure on the foot and get medical attention as soon as possible.

The diagnosis process will often start with an assessment and physical exam of the individual’s history. The physical exam usually provides sufficient information on the nature of the injury. However, x-rays might sometimes be required, especially if the injury fails to heal. During the diagnosis process, the doctor might some of the following questions:

  • When did you first notice the problem?
  • What are the symptoms and signs?
  • When are the symptoms worst, or when do they occur the most? Are there specific activities that increase pain?
  • Do you remember having any health complications or accidents during the onset of the condition?
  • Are you experiencing any other type of pain aside from the ankles?
  • Do you have any medical health issues that might lead to increased ankle pain?

The diagnosis process might also involve physical tough, whereby the doctor evaluates the functionality of the ankles and the joints. Furthermore, the doctor will also be evaluating you for sections of the ankle that are tender, experience pain, or may have swelled. Based on the results of the physical exam, the doctor may order for additional tests to confirm the findings of the diagnosis.

Top Treatments for Ankle Pain

Most fatal ankle injuries usually resolve themselves with a few days or weeks. More so, using over the counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen can ease the pain. People who are allergic to these medications might have to consult with a medical health professional. Within 24 hours of the injury, you should also consider applying DIY self-care procedures. The treatment might include resting the joint and alternating between useful treatments. Furthermore, pain medication such as paracetamol is also effective. Usually, the Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE) technique is recommended for this process.

Regardless of whether you have a fatal injury or persistent arthritis, medications are not always suitable for relieving pain. Furthermore, if you undergo surgery, it is highly likely that you will require additional help for the healing process. Consider these top suggestions to aid the healing process:

  • Temperature regulation – being able to regulate temperature can help you alleviate the issues of ankle pain. For instance, cold temperatures can help to reduce any inflammation that arises from a new ankle injury. More so, it can also help you to relieve the effects of chronic pain and arthritis breakouts as well.
  • Canes – placing addition weight or stress on the ankle can lead to pain. As such, using canes can play a significant role in restoring the balance of your body weight. While the most common can type for such injuries is a single tip, you can also benefit from other forms of canes. Usually, the doctor will provide the best advice on using canes to aid the recovery process.
  • Ankle braces – using ankle braces can help improve the recovery of ankle pain and even injury. More so, the brace can also be beneficial in reducing the risk of re-spraigning the affected area. The common types of ankle braces include functional and rigid designs. The rigid braces immobilize the entire ankle, while functional braces provide enhanced ankle movement.
  • Electrical stimulation – using electrical stimulation of the muscle tissue around the ankle may be useful for enhancing both bone and muscle recovery. Various studies have shown that treatment is beneficial, especially when addressing issues such as osteoarthritis.
  • Weight loss – walking around with a large body can cause excessive stress on the ankle area, thereby leading to increased pain. Therefore, being able to reduce your body weight can go a long way in lowering ankle pain.
  • Medications – there are several types of drugs that are useful for the treatment and management of ankle pain. Typically, the treatments start with drugs that have the least side effects. As the treatment progresses, further drugs are added to the pain management issue. The first line of therapy might include essential painkilling medicines such as paracetamol. Furthermore, the inflamed ankle pain management might involve the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

Causes of Ankle Pain

The primary cause of ankle pain is the unusual motion of the muscle and bones. The risk of pain increases during physical activities that consist of explosive movement. These might include activities such as basketball, soccer, tennis, physical exercise, and more. Furthermore, the ankle pain can also occur as a result of the normal day to day activities. Engaging in physical activity even before the ankles are fully healed, can lead to increased pain. Such form of ankle pain is often referred to as chronic ankle pain.

Risk Factors

Some of the other factors that can contribute towards increased risk of ankle pain include:

  • Shoes that don’t provide adequate support for the body – wearing proper shoes is essential, especially if you know that you have an active lifestyle. For instance, a nurse requires shoes that offer comfort and the ability to move around conveniently.
  • Wearing high heeled shoes – these shoes affect the positioning of the heel and joint, thereby leading to increased pain. More so, wearing high heeled shoes also compromises how the spine can accommodate your body weight. It’s better to wear flatter shoes with good support.
  • Weak muscles and tendons – the ankle joint consists of muscles that can be prone to damage. The weak muscles and tendons, therefore, increase the likelihood of getting ankle injury.
  • Poor diet – lack of sufficient nutrients such as calcium and proteins can easily compromise the durability of the ankles. As such, maintaining the appropriate nutrition can go a long way in reducing ankle issues
  • Running or walking on uneven surfaces – motion on uneven surfaces can stretch the ankle beyond its normal range of motion. Overstretching can lead to injury or discomfort.
  • Slow muscular responses to an off-balance surface – the muscle has to react to unusual positions as you move around. Failing to do so can lead to increased stress to the ankle area, thereby causing pain.

Broadly speaking, the ankle pain will usually occur due to excessive stress on the ligament section of the ankle. Usually, this can often be due to as a result, of external rotation or inversion of the foot, caused by a large force. If the force is large enough to cause damage to the ligaments, then the individual can suffer from pain.

Health Complications and Diseases

Most forms of arthritis and specific bone health complications can easily lead to ankle pain. The most common complication is arthritis. Arthritis is a medical term used to classify health complications that compromise the movement of the joints. Usually, the main signs include stiffness and joint discomfort. Furthermore, other symptoms might consist of warmth, swelling, redness, and compromised range of motion in the joints. Among some of the commonly experienced health complications include:

  • Osteoarthritis – the most popular type of arthritis, and it is chronic health complication that occurs during the breakdown of cartilage. The cartilage breakdown causes the bones to experience friction, thereby leading to stiffness and causing pain. The foot is the most commonly affect joint, and the condition can also compromise the ankle.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – the rheumatoid arthritis is also a chronic inflammatory health complication that affects the functionality of the immune system. In particular, the complication causes the immune system to attack the synovium, which is a thin membrane that is found around the joints. As a result, the individual might experience pain, swelling, discomfort, and even loss of ankle functionality.
  • Gout – Gout is a form of arthritis that leads to the production of excess uric acid, which then flows around the body. The uric acid is then deposited as thin and crystal-like structures that can affect the performance of the joints. For most people, the first sign of gout is the occurrence of excruciating pain and swelling in the big toe. This often occurs after trauma, especially after illnesses or even toe injury. Additional attacks might occasionally occur on other joints in the body.
  • Nutrient deficiency – the ankle consists of various components include bone, muscles, tendons, cartilages, and more. To maintain optimal functionality, these components require a fully functional body with adequate nutrients. Among some of the most essential nutrients include minerals, proteins, vitamins, and more. Lack of sufficient access to these nutrients can affect the ankle recovery process.

Sprains and Fractures

While most types of arthritis and related complications can compromise the ankles, the most common cause of ankle pain is a sprain. It occurs when the ligaments that occur around the ankle overstretch or experience tears. Here is what you need to know about sprained ankles and the common ankle injuries:

  • Sprains – a widespread ankle injury, that causes the ligaments to stretch behind their normal range of motion. The sprain occurs when the foot turns, rolls or twists due to falls or even missteps. Usually, the sprains are classified in specific categories and in relation to the level of the ankle damage. Various factors increase the risk of getting injuries. For instance, the fatigue of the muscles is a common cause. When one starts to engage in intense exercise after an inactive lifestyle, then they are likely to get sprains. Furthermore, the lack of sufficient warm-up is also associated with ankle pain and injuries.
  • Ankle fractures – a fractured or broken ankle occurs when there is physical damage to the bones in the ankle. Moreover, the fracture might also happen when you twist or roll the ankle outside of its normal range of motion. Usually, this occurs during intense physical activities such as sports or heavy lifting. In some cases, a broken ankle can have the same signs as a sprained ankle. Among some of these significant symptoms include excruciating pain, swelling, bruising, deformed appearances, and more.

Overall

Managing ankle pain and issues are all about making informed choices. There are various causes and symptoms associated with ankle pain. The pain can range from mild to serve. Left unchecked and the condition might lead to secondary issues such as immobility. Moreover, failing to address the issue effectively can compromise your ability to engage in day to day tasks.  For the most part, wearing proper footwear, maintaining a healthy diet, and staying active is vital in preventing ankle pain. Moreover, the treatment process requires the use of anti-inflammatory and painkilling drugs.

Sarah Shawman

is the webmistress of Footwear 4 Workers.

She started this website out of displeasure with the fact that there are so few good online resources especially dedicated to the 99%: working people. Having suffered from work related plantar fasciitis herself, she set out on a mission to help others.

She updated this page on and will continue to update it as time goes on.

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