Many people experience pain in their ankles due to an injury or an underlying condition. Ankle pain can also be the result of an old injury that has never healed, but it’s important to avoid jumping to conclusions. Visit your podiatrist to receive a diagnosis and discuss treatment options that can help you relieve your discomfort.
Common Causes of Ankle Pain
The most common reason for ankle pain is a sprain or strain. This happens when you roll or twist your ankle by falling or landing improperly. Athletes are more at risk for this injury.
Ankle pain can also happen if you keep repeatedly injuring the same ankle. This can weaken the ankle—making it vulnerable to injury and pain. Many ankle injuries are common during sports and among those who are older or overweight.
In addition, ankle pain can sometimes be the result of an infection. An infection can occur when bacteria gets into the ankle joint or cartilage. Pain can also happen when the ankle joint gets inflamed.Other conditions that cause ankle pain include:
- Achilles tendon rupture
- Broken ankle or foot
- Flat foot
- Torn tendon
Diagnosing the Pain
Any pain in your ankles should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent complications. However, you should seek immediate attention if you experience any of the following:
- Severe swelling or pain
- Redness, tenderness, or warmth in the area of the pain
- Open wound
- Inability to bear weight on the ankle
If you are experiencing pain in your ankle, it is best to see your podiatrist as opposed to your primary care provider. Your podiatrist will examine your ankle and foot to determine the source of the pain.
In some cases, the cause can be identified through an initial examination. However, to get a more detailed look at your ankle or foot, your podiatrist may need to order imaging such as:
- CT scan
If your podiatrist suspects that the source of pain is from an infection, they may order a biopsy to sample the infected tissue.
Treating ankle pain will depend on the cause of the pain. There are a range of treatment options available. Your podiatrist will explain your options and answer any questions you might have about the best way to proceed.
Many ankle injuries can get better with at-home treatments. Keep in mind that it is common to experience swelling, stiffness, and pain while your ankle is healing. The most common treatments for minor ankle injuries can be remembered with the acronym RICE:
- Rest. Stay off your feet for as long as your podiatrist recommends.
- Ice. Apply ice to reduce swelling. Typically, ice is applied 15-20 minutes each hour.
- Compression. You can reduce swelling by using a compression bandage around the ankle.
- Elevation. Keep your ankle elevated above your heart to reduce swelling. Try placing a pillow under your foot to elevate the ankle.
Other potential treatments for ankle pain include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers. You can take NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve to reduce pain and swelling.
- Ankle brace or other support. Your podiatrist may recommend using crutches or wearing an ankle support or brace while your ankle is healing.
- Physical therapy or a steroidal injection. These treatments can relieve pain, improve range of motion, and help you regain strength.
- Surgery. In severe cases or when you've suffered a break or fracture, surgery may be needed. Every case is unique, so your podiatrist will determine the best treatment for your specific needs.
Contact Us for Help With Your Ankle Pain
Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry can help you with your ankle pain. We offer free initial consultations and can create a customized plan to get you pain-free and back on your feet as soon as possible. To set up an initial visit, you can fill out our contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET.