4 Common Causes of Ankle Pain
Walking around with ankle pain is not easy, and it could result in further damage to the joint or tissues if you do not seek timely medical attention. The most common causes of ankle pain are sprains, strains, arthritis, and Achilles tendonitis, but it could be anything serious too that needs professional care. Ankle injuries can be managed with home treatments, including rest, ice, compression, and elevation, but severe injuries may require surgery. The board-certified and experienced foot and ankle specialists at the Century Medical and Dental Center know how to diagnose your ankle pain without any delay. They make sure you receive the most effective treatment that prevents further damage to your tissues, muscles, and bones.
What Is Ankle Pain?
Ankle pain refers to any type of pain or discomfort in your ankles. Such pain could be caused by an injury, like a sprain, or a medical condition, like arthritis.
The ankle joint is the point where the bones of the leg and the foot meet. This joint is responsible for the up and down motion of the foot. The ankle is considered the ankle joint plus the surrounding anatomic region, including the lower end of the leg and the start of the flat part of the foot. Pain in the ankle can result from inflammation or injury to any of the structures in this region, including the bones, joint space, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, or muscles.
Ankle pain can be associated with other symptoms, including:
- Ankle swelling;
- Numbness or tingling;
- Burning pain;
- Inability to bear weight on the affected ankle;
When the ankle hurts, it becomes difficult to stand or walk. You end up favoring your other leg. In some cases, too much pressure on the other leg can lead to pain in it. Ankle pain can result from several causes. Visiting a specialist for accurate diagnosis and treatment of your discomfort is essential.
Common Causes of Ankle Pain
Here are four common causes of ankle pain. The specialist can determine if your pain is resulting from any of these conditions, or it is something entirely different. Depending on the causes, the doctor will start a course of treatment that eliminates the pain and gets you back on your feet within a short time.
A lot of children and adults suffer from ankle strains and sprains as a result of injuries and accidents. A sprain means you have damaged ligaments, tough rope-like bands of tissues that connect your ankle bones.
Sprains generally occur when the ankle rolls or twists and the outside ankle moves toward the ground, tearing the ligaments of the joint that hold the bones together. It is easy to sprain the hardworking ligaments when you are walking or running and fail to notice an indentation or pothole in the ground. The uneven surfaces cause your leg to twist underneath you, and the ankle turns at an awkward angle. Wearing high heels or playing sports increases the risk of an ankle sprain.
Ankle sprains can be mild, which means the ligament has stretched, or they can be moderate with a partial tear. A severe ankle sprain means the ligament has been torn and requires medical attention. Mild or moderate sprains do not require surgery. R.I.C.E method that includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation, is the best way to keep the swelling and pain under control till you can see a doctor.
An ankle strain is similar to an ankle sprain. The only difference is that at this time you have stretched or tore a tendon or a muscle around the ankle. The muscle or tendon gets inflamed like an ankle sprain, and you will end up with pain and swelling at the site, which also restricts your movements.
Swelling or discoloration around the joint may be an indication of a strain. In addition to this, a strained ankle may be warm to the touch. If you experience this symptom, ice your ankle and keep it elevated.
The ankle joint is formed by three bones. Each bone has cartilage, soft tissue that cushions the space between the bones so that they work smoothly together as you move. As you age, the cartilage ages too. It becomes frayed and thin and makes you experience pain when the bones begin to rub against each other. This is condition is known as osteoarthritis.
Pain in ankle can also be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune disease. This type of arthritis often targets parallel joints. If both ankles are painful, without any sign of injury or damage to the bone, rheumatoid arthritis could be the culprit.
If you have experienced a traumatic ankle injury in the past, such as a dislocation or a fracture, you are seven times more likely to develop posttraumatic arthritis than someone without that type of injury. Arthritis is more common in people above 65 years but it can also affect young people in some cases.
The Achilles tendon is the band of tissue that connects calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone. Achilles tendonitis is an overused injury of your calf muscles. If you are a runner or play some sport like tennis or racquetball, Achilles tendonitis may be the cause of your ankle pain. It mostly occurs when you suddenly increase the intensity or duration of your runs. It is also common among middle-aged people who play sports, like tennis or basketball.
Preventing a tendon tear is essential as it could require surgery if you do not rest the ankle right away and consult a doctor. Self-care strategies can help to prevent recurring episodes. Most cases of Achilles tendinitis can be treated with relatively simple, at-home care as advised by the foot and ankle doctor. Serious cases of Achilles tendinitis can lead to tendon tears or ruptures that may require surgical repair.
When to See a Doctor for Ankle Pain?
If rest, ice, compression, and elevation are not working and your ankle still hurts, seek medical help. Extreme swelling or bruising, along with the inability to put pressure or weight on the area accompanied by significant pain requires professional care.
If there is no improvement during the course of the first few days and your ankle paint does not seem to be subsiding, it needs proper diagnosing and evaluation. Testing depends on the location of the pain and if you have been recently injured. The doctor may order an imaging test such as an x-ray, CT, or MRI scan. These tests create images of bones and soft tissues, which help look for damage.
Other causes for ankle pain include:
- Plantar fasciitis;
- Stress fractures;
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome;
- Rheumatoid arthritis;
- Nerve damage which is also known as neuropathy;
- Ruptured tendon;
Do not let ankle pain affect your movement or result in some other complication. Visit a podiatrist to have your joint examined and get the best treatment to resume activity. The doctor will examine your ankle and foot and check for swelling, pain, and bruising.
Whether you have a strain, sprain, or any other ankle injury that hurts, the best way to seek relief is to get medical attention as soon as possible. Schedule an appointment with an experienced and board-certified podiatrist at the Century Medical and Dental Center to learn about the causes of your ankle and joint pain and how it can be treated. Based on your signs and symptoms, they try to work out if you have damaged a ligament or a tendon or some old injury is causing trouble. The expert ankle and foot doctors use the most accurate diagnostic tests and methods to determine your condition and recommend the best solutions for your specific discomfort.