Ankle Pain
Symptoms, Causes, Related Conditions, Questions & Related Topics

Ankle Pain May Also be Known as:

  • Anklebone pain
  • Talus pain
  • Tarsus pain
  • Ankle swelling
  • Ankle discomfort



About Ankle Injuries

Every day in the United States, approximately 25,000 people sprain their ankle. It goes to say that ankle injuries are pretty common. And, whether they happen during a strenuous workout or as you’re walking down the street, they sure do hurt.

The ankle is made up of a bunch of bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments, and each type of ankle injury is characterized by which of these is damaged.

The type of treatment you will get for an ankle injury depends on what type of injury you have. Mild sprains and strains are usually treated with rest, ice, anti-inflammatory and pain medication, and physical therapy, if necessary. Severe sprains and strains may require surgery to repair the damaged ligaments or tendons. Additionally, ankle fractures will typically be treated with a brace or a cast to keep the ankle immobilized, or with surgery if the fracture is severe.

Top 5 Causes of Ankle Pain

Ankle pain is any kind of discomfort, ache, or throbbing feeling in the angular area that connects the leg and the foot.[1] Ankle pain can be due to a simple sprain or another issue that requires rest and minimal treatment. However, it can also be related to a much more serious problem that requires intensive treatment and recovery.

1. Ankle Sprain or Twist

Ankle pain is often due to a sprain, which can sometimes happen without a person even realizing it.[2] You don’t have to be an athlete; playing sports for fun can lead to an ankle sprain.

A sprain is a kind of injury that occurs in the ligaments, the tissues that hold your bones together. These flexible tissues help your joints move; however, they can sometimes become torn or overstretched, resulting in a sprain.[3] Sprains come in three types, with grade 3 sprains being the most severe. Necessary treatments can range from ice and rest to surgery. A person can also twist their ankle, which isn’t as bad as a sprain. However, if not given the proper treatment and rest, a twist can worsen over time.

2. Damage to Tendons or Cartilage

The tendons or the cartilage in your ankles can also become damaged, leading to ankle pain.[2] This can be uncomfortable, but it isn’t as common as a sprain. However, many different issues can cause this, such as weak tendons or even some kind of bodily trauma sustained during an event such as a car crash.

3. Infection

Some people get infections in their ankles, which can also cause ankle pain. Pain is one of the strongest signs of this issue, as it often accompanies almost every type of infection.[4] An infection in or around the ankle is often accompanied by inflammation around the area.

4. Arthritis

Some individuals, especially older people, can experience ankle pain due to arthritis. Arthritis is a blanket term for around 100 different medical issues associated with stiffness and pain in the joints.[5] Several different types of arthritis can lead to ankle pain, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and reactive arthritis, or Reiter syndrome.[2]

5. Issues Around the Ankle

The ankle itself is not always the culprit when it comes to ankle pain.[2] Sometimes other nearby parts of the body might suffer, with pain manifesting in the ankles. This usually occurs when something is wrong in the feet or legs.

Possible Health Conditions Related to Ankle Pain

Ankle pain can be related to many different health issues, some of which are serious. After learning more about these conditions, you can consider your particular symptoms and begin to paint a better picture of your situation.

1. Sprain or Break

An ankle sprain can be a serious health condition if not treated correctly. A grade 1 sprain usually requires some light stretching, but a grade 2 sprain often requires the individual to wear a cast or splint for some time.[3] Finally, a grade 3 sprain can require surgery. If you think you have sustained an ankle sprain, it is important to speak to your doctor in order to determine the severity of the strain.

You would probably be more aware of a broken ankle than a sprained one, but it’s still important to consider the basics. When you break your ankle, you usually hear a noise when the bone breaks and see that your ankle has a strange shape to it. In these cases, the situation requires immediate medical attention.

2. Septic Arthritis

If you have septic arthritis or infectious arthritis, it means you have an infection in your joint. This could potentially cause ankle pain.[6] Tests are often required to determine whether this is the issue causing your pain.

3. Gout

Also considered to be a type of arthritis, gout can occur in the joints of the lower body, often the ankle, toe, or knee joints.[7] Gout develops when a person’s body has a high level of uric acid in it, and the acid forms crystals in the fluid around the joints, making them swell and hurt. Treatment usually involves the use of medicines, and in most cases, changes to your diet and lifestyle, especially avoiding certain foods.

4. Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis occurs when the Achilles tendon is overworked and sustains an injury.[8] Consistent pain in the Achilles tendon should warrant a doctor’s visit. Treatment might include medication, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, or surgery.

5. Bursitis

This is a condition that occurs when the bursae, fluid-filled sacs near your joints, become inflamed.[9] This often occurs in the ankles and shoulders. The issue can be diagnosed through certain tests, and treatment usually involves physical therapy and medication. Very severe bursitis might require surgery.

Where to Get You Ankle Checked Out

More than 1 million people go to the ER for ankle injuries each year, but as it turns out, there’s a better way to get your injured ankle treated. Simply use Solv to make an appointment at your local urgent care and avoid an uncomfortable wait in the lobby. Whether your ankle injury occurs on your morning jog, at your intramural soccer practice after work, or doing yard work on the weekend, Solv will help you find a same-day appointment so you can start feeling better fast.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Your Ankle Pain

  • Does your pain occur in one or both ankles?
  • When did your pain start?
  • Does the pain in your ankles become worse when you move? Rest? Sit down?
  • Did you injure your ankle? If so, how did it occur?
  • Can you bear any weight on your foot?
  • Have you injured your ankle in the past?

Sources

  1. Dartmouth Medical School. Basic Human Anatomy. Chapter 17: The ankle and foot. https://www.dartmouth.edu/~humananatomy/part_3/chapter_17.html
  2. National Library of Medicine. Ankle Pain. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003167.htm
  3. National Library of Medicine. Ankle Sprain- Aftercare. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000574.htm
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Pain. Pain and Infection: Pathogen Detection by Nociceptors. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4874496/
  5. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis Basics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4874496/
  6. National Library of Medicine. Infectious Arthritis. https://medlineplus.gov/infectiousarthritis.html
  7. National Library of Medicine. Gout. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000422.htm
  8. Mayo Clinic. Achilles Tendinitis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/achilles-tendinitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20369020
  9. Mayo Clinic. Bursitis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bursitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353242

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