Ankle pain involves any discomfort in one or both ankles.
Ankle pain is often due to an ankle sprain. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments, which connect bones to one another. In most cases of ankle sprain, the ankle is twisted inward, causing small tears in the ligaments. This makes the ankle unstable. The tearing leads to swelling and bruising, making it difficult to bear weight on the joint.
Once an ankle is sprained, the injury may take a few weeks to many months to fully heal. Often, the injured ankle remains a little weaker and less stable than the uninjured one. A proper recovery program can prevent this problem.
Other structures in the ankle that can be damaged and cause pain are tendons (which join muscles to bone), cartilage (which cushions joints), and blood vessels. Adjacent areas can cause pain to be felt in (referred to) the ankle -- these include the foot, lower leg, knee, and even hip.
In addition to ankle sprains and other injuries, ankle pain can be caused by arthritis, gout, pseudogout, and infection.
Gout occurs when you produce too much uric acid (a waste product in the body). The extra uric acid gets deposited and forms crystals in joints, rather than being excreted in the urine.
Pseudogout is similar to gout. In this condition, calcium deposits in one or more of your joints, causing pain, redness, and swelling.
The types of arthritis that can cause ankle pain include:
Even after the pain subsides, you will need to keep pressure off of it for up to 10 days for a mild sprain and up to 5 weeks for a more severe sprain.
Once you have healed adequately, you can start exercises to strengthen your ankle and avoid injury in the future. Do not begin these exercises until a health care professional tells you it is safe to start. One exercise, for example, involves balancing on your healing foot and hopping.
For arthritis of the ankle, take medication exactly as prescribed. When the pain and swelling start to decrease, gently begin to exercise the joint again. Swimming is good, followed by stretching. Walking can be added later. Exercises can be done several times a day; but DO NOT overdo it. Pain is a message from your body to stop.
Go to the hospital if:
Call your doctor if:
Your doctor will perform a physical examination, including a detailed examination of the ankles, and ask questions such as:
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include the following:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), special foot gear, or braces may be prescribed. Surgery is occasionally necessary.
Pain - ankle