By Medicover Hospitals / 20 Feb 2021
Physical discomfort in the ankle area, often including the joint or tendon that connects the lower leg to the heel. Ankle pain can have causes that are not because of an underlying disease. Examples include ill-fitting footwear such as ski boots, high heels, sprains, strains, overuse, lack of use, or trauma.
- What is Ankle Pain?
- When to visit a Doctor?
- Home Remedies
What is Ankle Pain?
Ankle pain refers to any type of pain or discomfort that affects any part of the ankle. Ankle pain can occur for many reasons. The most common causes include injuries, arthritis, and normal wear and tear. Depending on the cause, you may feel pain or stiffness anywhere around your ankle. Your ankle can also swell and you may not put any weight on it. A physical therapy (PT) package will also help you recover whether you've had an ankle fracture or surgery. The muscles which support your feet and ankles are reinforced by PT.
Ankle pain can result from various injuries and conditions. Some more common injuries that cause ankle pain include:
It is a tear in the ligaments that holds the bones of the ankle together. When the foot rolls backward, it also occurs. Your ankle may swell and bruise.
Your immune system normally fights off germs. Sometimes it attacks the joints by mistake. Doctors call it rheumatoid arthritis. It usually impacts the same joint on both sides of your body. If you get it, it would damage your ankles. Pain, swelling, and stiffness often begin in the toes and the front of the foot and slowly return to the ankle.
This autoimmune disease causes your body to attack healthy tissues. It could directly affect the ankles or cause kidney problems that cause fluid to build up in the joints. There is no cure for lupus, but your doctor can prescribe medicine to keep it under control.
The space between your heel and the ball of your foot is your arch. It is supposed to create a hollow area when you stand. If yours lies flat, it could result from injury or wear and tear. You could also inherit it. It is usually painless, but the ankles can be sore or swollen if they go beyond the knee line.
A strong or sudden tension can cause small tears in the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles with the heel. The back of your ankle may swell or feel tender and warm just above the heel. You may notice it more in the morning or after exercise. Anti-inflammatory medications can ease pain, but rest is key to healing.
This problem is because of the degradation of tissues due to overuse. It usually starts slowly and gets worse. You may have pain or a lump where the tendon on the back of your leg meets your heel. Sometimes it affects the middle of the tendon; you may also notice a lump there.
Chronic lateral ankle pain:
There are many causes of ongoing pain on the outside of the ankle. It is most likely because of a ligament not healing properly after a sprain and remains weak. This makes it less safe for the whole joint, which leads to more fracture and discomfort. The treatment depends on the cause.
Your ankle has two fluid-filled sacs, or bursae, that cushion space between tendons and bones. They can become inflamed because of arthritis, overuse, high-heeled shoes, recent shoe changes, or resuming workouts after time off. Your ankle may feel stiff, tender, hot, and swollen.
Osteochondral lesions of the talus (OLT):
A sudden injury, such as a sprain, can damage the cartilage of the talus (heel bone) or cause fractures, blisters, or sores in the bone underneath. You may notice a lock on your ankle, or it may become locked or still sore months after a treated injury, which could be an OLT.
This type usually follows an infection in your gastrointestinal or urinary tract. Your ankles and knees are among the first places you can feel it. Your doctor will treat the infection with antibiotics. There is no cure for arthritis, but anti-inflammatory medications can help with pain and swelling.
- Ankle pain and ankle tendonitis are diagnosed by reviewing the history of pain when it occurred, whether there was trauma or overuse, and whether there are underlying conditions.
- An exam of the ankle joint is performed to check for warmth, redness, swelling, tenderness, or loosening of the joint.
- If lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter treatments just don't relieve pain, it might be time to look at other options.
- An orthopedic shoe insert or foot or ankle brace is a great non-surgical way to help realign your joints and keep pain and discomfort at bay.
- An ankle brace works the same way.
- Steroid injections can reduce pain and inflammation. The injections contain a medicine called a corticosteroid, which reduces swelling, stiffness, and pain in the affected area.
- Most injections take only a few minutes and provide relief within a few hours, while the effects are said to last 3 to 6 months. The best part is that it is a non-invasive and non-surgical procedure that you can have at home resting the same day.
When to visit a Doctor?
Any pain in the foot can become more than a short-term concern. If you can't treat pain on your own or have a condition that could affect your joints or soft tissues, you may need more research.
You should talk to your doctor or a foot care specialist if:
- your pain does not improve in the first few days
- your pain is getting worse
- still causing problems after two weeks of self-care
- have sores that won't heal
- your skin has changed color, especially if it has turned dark blue or black
- your foot has changed shape or is swollen
- have a high fever or feel hot and chills
- is red, hot, or swollen, as you may have an infection
- the problem recurs or lasts over three months
- have an inflammatory disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma
- you have diabetes
- you are taking steroids, biologics, or other medications that affect your immune system
For immediate home treatment of ankle pain, the RICE method is recommended. This includes:
If your ankle pain results from arthritis, you cannot fully heal the injury. However, there are ways to manage it. It can help:
- Rest: Avoid putting weight on your ankle. For the first few days, try to travel as little as practicable. When you struggle to walk or move, use crutches.
- Ice: Begin by placing an ice pack on your ankle for at least 20 minutes at a time, with 90 minutes between frosting sessions. Do this for 3 days after the accident, three to five times a day. It helps to alleviate swelling and uncomfortable numbness.
- Compression: Wrap your injured ankle in an elastic bandage, such as an ACE bandage. Don't wrap it so tightly that your ankle goes numb or your fingers turn blue.
- Elevation: Keep your ankle elevated above heart level on a pile of pillows or other supportive structures.
- use topical pain relievers
- take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation
- stay physically active and follow a fitness program focused on moderate exercise
- practice healthy eating habits
- stretch to maintain a good range of motion in your joints
- keep your body weight within a healthy range, which will reduce stress on the joints
Frequently Asked Questions:
One problem that can cause sudden ankle pain without injury is osteoarthritis. This condition is a natural result of your body's aging and typically causes the cartilage and bones in your joints to wear out or become damaged.
Injury to any of the ankle bones, ligaments, or tendons and various types of arthritis can cause ankle pain.
If you wear shoes that are too tight, too loose, or have insufficient support, you may be setting yourself up for foot and ankle pain.
For compression treatment, compression socks and stockings are intended. They apply gentle pressure to the legs and ankles, promoting blood flow from the legs to the heart.
Science Direct - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304395911005616
SAGE magazines - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/036354659101900504
SpringerLink - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00443461