Experiencing pain in the ankle? Ankle pain can make walking difficult, making it a real hindrance to everyday life. There are many possible reasons you could be feeling pain in your ankle, from injuries to disease processes. Here are some common causes of ankle pain, and how each is treated.
One of the most common causes of ankle pain is a sprained ankle. This happens when your weight comes down on the side of your foot, rolling your ankle inwards or outwards. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation can all help reduce the swelling and pain from a sprain.
If your pain in the ankle is especially bad and accompanied by swelling and bruising, you may have an ankle fracture. Walking is difficult, if not impossible, with this injury. Broken ankles can be severe and sometimes need surgery to make sure the bones heal correctly. Fractures require an immediate doctor’s visit where your ankle will be x-rayed to determine the extent of the fracture and the course of management.
Pain on the inside of the ankle may continue even after your initial injury has healed. Often sprains can illicit damage to the top of the bone inside the ankle, called the talus. This bone has a cartilaginous surface, that can be insured with an ankle sprain, causing lingering pain, even months after recovery from the initial injury. Patients often report a sensation of “the ankle giving out” while walking on uneven surfaces when there is significant damage to the talus bone, in the form of an osteochondral defect (commonly referred to as an OCD). OCDs can be diagnosed on MRI, and have their own conservative and surgical treatment measures.
Another common cause of lingering pain and instability after an ankle sprain is an injury to the ligaments that connect the two long bones of the leg, the tibia and fibula. Commonly referred to as a “high ankle sprain,” injury to these ligaments can create symptoms even months after the initial injury, and can even require surgery if not properly addressed.
Osteoarthritis is a common pathology that causes pain within the ankle. While usually due to overuse and wear and tear of the joint, it can also occur after prior trauma, often many years out. It occurs when the bones within the ankle rub against each other and wear the cartilage down. Signs of arthritis include pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. Exercise, physical therapy, oral anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, custom orthotics, and accommodative shoes can all help with osteoarthritis. Talk to a doctor if you think your’re having arthritic ankle pain.
Gout is another commonly missed culprit of ankle pain. Gout arthropathy is a condition caused by hyperuricemia, or having too much uric acid in the blood stream. It is a metabolic disorder of the kidneys that can result in joint pain, often in the foot or ankle. Gout in the foot and ankle can be very disabling, often not allowing you to put any weight on the foot due to swelling and pain. Initial treatment requires specific oral medication aimed at lowering uric acid levels in the blood, as well modifications in diet. Pain relief and resolution of symptoms can be expedited by a cortisone injection.
It can be difficult to know when to see a doctor for pain in the ankle because even a simple injury can cause immense pain at first. More often than not, trying remedies at home for a while is fine. If your ankle pain does not go away within a few days, it is time to contact a doctor. You can also get an appointment right away if that is what you prefer.
Signs that you need immediate medical attention for pain in the ankle include severe pain or swelling, open wounds, severe deformity, or signs of infection like redness and warmth along with a fever. If you cannot put any weight on your foot, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Have ankle pain that won’t go away? Diablo Foot and Ankle can help. Call today to schedule an appointment.