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Common causes of ankle pain, how to manage it and when to seek treatment
You can often treat ankle pain yourself at home, but in some cases, your ankle pain may need non-surgical or surgical treatment. If you have ankle pain that doesn't start to improve after a few days, if you are experiencing recurrent or chronic ankle pain, or if the pain in your ankle or ankles is stopping you from living your normal life, it's time to speak to a specialist.
Call 0141 300 5009 or book online today to arrange a consultation to discuss private treatment for ankle pain with a consultant of your choice at Circle Health Group.
This page explains what ankle pain is, what causes ankle pain, and how we treat ankle pain at Circle Health Group.
Ankle pain may include symptoms such as:
Some common causes of ankle pain include:
A sprain occurs when there is damage to a ligament (the tough fibrous tissue that connects bone to bone). Sprains commonly occur through twisting your joint suddenly, such as when you land awkwardly during a fall, or sudden movements during sport. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and bruising of the ankle joint.
This is inflammation of your tendons (the connective tissue that connects muscle to bone). There are three types of tendonitis that affect your ankle joint.
Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the bones, muscles, and tendons in your joints. When these sacs become inflamed, it causes a condition called bursitis. Symptoms of ankle bursitis include pain, swelling, and redness around the heel. It may also be difficult to put weight on the affected foot.
There are four types of arthritis that may cause ankle pain.
A fracture is a break in a bone. In the ankle, this may be the bones of the lower leg (tibia or fibula) or the foot bone (talus). Ankle fractures are commonly caused by trauma such as tripping, falling, or a car accident. Symptoms include sudden severe pain, bruising, swelling, deformity, and inability to put weight on your affected ankle.
Like fractures, bone bruises are normally caused by trauma or repetitive overuse. They have similar symptoms to fractures but are less severe and occur when there is damage to the surface of the bone. Symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty moving the affected joint.
Some rare causes of ankle pain include:
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that normally affects your big toe joint, but in rare cases may affect your ankle. It occurs when you have high levels of a chemical called uric acid in your body. Symptoms of gout include pain, swelling, redness, heat, and reduced mobility in the affected joint,
Tarsal tunnel syndrome or posterior tibial neuralgia occurs when one of the nerves that supply your legs becomes compressed in an area called the tarsal tunnel. It is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome which occurs in the wrist. Symptoms include shooting pain, burning, tingling, and numbness.
Bone infections occur when bacteria enter the bones through the bloodstream, or via a wound after injury or surgery. Symptoms include fever, swelling, warmth, redness, pain, and fatigue.
This occurs when the peroneal nerve that runs down your leg is compressed. Symptoms vary depending on where the compression occurs but include numbness, tingling, pain, weakness, and in severe cases, foot drop (where you are unable to flex the foot upwards).
Bone tumours are normally benign (non-cancerous) but may need treatment as they can grow and cause problems with your healthy bones. Malignant (cancerous) bone tumours are rare but need immediate treatment as they can spread to other parts of your body. Symptoms of bone tumours include a dull ache that gets worse or more constant over time. You may develop a lump somewhere on your body, or your bones could become weaker and break more easily. Other symptoms may include fever and night sweats.
Your consultant will ask you some questions about your symptoms, including what they are, how long you have had them, and how they started.
Your consultant will examine your ankle for signs of redness, swelling, visible injury, or deformity. They may apply firm pressure to your ankle to check for areas of pain or tenderness and check how well you can move your ankle.
Your consultant may be able to make a diagnosis based on your symptoms and physical examination, but normally they will need tests or scans to make or confirm their diagnosis. These may include:
Your consultant will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms, physical examination, and test results.
Your first consultation at Circle Health Group is important because it's where you first meet your consultant, explain your symptoms, receive a diagnosis, and discuss possible treatment options.
It's also where we get to know you, discuss any concerns you have, answer your questions, and learn about your expectations for treatment. It's very important to us that you are as comfortable and well-informed as possible, so please ask your consultant any questions you may have during your first consultation.
The treatment for ankle pain depends on the cause. After your consultant has made a diagnosis, they will discuss treatment options with you. These may include:
Some ankle problems can be treated at home using the RICE protocol. This is often the first choice of treatment for ankle pain caused by conditions such as sprains and tendonitis.
The RICE protocol is as follows:
Regardless of whether you have surgery, or need physiotherapy to help manage your symptoms, you will be guided through each step of your recovery period by your dedicated healthcare team.
We answer some of your commonly asked questions about ankle pain.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition where there is inflammation of the plantar fascia, the ligament that stretches along the bottom of your foot from your heel to your toes. It normally causes pain and swelling in the heel and the arch of the foot but can also cause ankle pain.
Yes. A sprained ankle is usually painful. Sprained ankles occur when there is damage to the ligaments around your ankle. Ligaments are fibrous bands of tissue that connect bones to bones and help stabilise your joints. How severe the pain is and how long it takes to recover from a sprained ankle depends on how badly your ligaments are damaged.
Yes. If you experience pain in your feet or ankles while driving, you may have a condition called driver's foot. This is a type of repetitive stress injury caused by spending a lot of time driving or sitting in traffic with your foot on the brake pedal. Conditions such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis are also more common in people who spend a lot of time driving.
To help relieve symptoms of driver's foot:
How to get rid of ankle pain depends on the cause. The first step in treating ankle pain is usually the RICE method described above.
See a doctor if:
Long-term stress and anxiety have been linked to chronic pain disorders such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lower back pain.
When you are stressed, your body releases hormones that increase your heart rate, create muscle tension, and heighten your sensitivity to pain. Rapid breathing or hyperventilation is another stress response that can lower levels of calcium in your blood leading to muscle spasms, cramps, numbness, and tingling in the hands and feet.
Ankle pain is common among runners. It may be caused by poor footwear, not stretching adequately before you run, old injuries, or running too much.
To treat and prevent ankle pain from running:
If you would like to see a consultant or learn more about treatments for ankle pain, book your appointment today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.