4 Common Causes of Ankle Pain

Your ankle hurts, and it’s difficult to walk. You’re favoring your other leg. Ankle pain has a host of causes. Don’t try to self-diagnose; it’s time to see a specialist. 

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon and musculoskeletal and regenerative medicine physician at Urgently Ortho in Scottsdale, Arizona, know how to diagnose your ankle pain with no delay so that you receive the proper treatment and prevent further damage to your tissue and/or bones. 

Following are four common causes of ankle pain. Your physician determines if your pain is caused by one of these conditions or something else and starts a course of treatment that gets you back in the game. 

Ankle sprain

We see lots of ankle sprains and strains in children and adults at Urgently Ortho. A sprain means you’ve damaged ligaments — tough, rope-like bands of tissue — that connect to your ankle bones. 

It’s easy to sprain these hardworking ligaments. When you’re taking a walk or running, you may be looking at the scenery; you don’t notice an indentation or pothole in the ground. The uneven surface causes your leg to twist underneath you, and your ankle turns at an awkward angle. Wearing high heels or playing sports exacerbates your risk for an ankle sprain. 

Ankle sprains can be mild, meaning a stretched ligament, moderate (partial tear) or severe (a total tear). Mild or moderate sprains rarely require surgery. Use the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) until you can see one of our Urgently Ortho physicians. 

Ankle strain

An ankle strain is similar to an ankle sprain, except that this time, you’ve stretched or torn a tendon or muscle around your ankle. The muscle or tendon is inflamed; like an ankle sprain, you have pain and swelling at the site, and it hurts to walk.  

Ankle arthritis

Three bones form your ankle joint. Each bone has cartilage, soft tissue that helps cushion the space between the bones so they work together smoothly when you move. As you age, your cartilage ages as well. It can become frayed and thin so that you experience pain when the bones begin to rub against each other. You have ankle osteoarthritis.

Pain in the ankle and/or foot can be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune disease. This form of arthritis often targets parallel joints; if both ankles are painful and you haven’t injured yourself otherwise, it’s important to investigate whether rheumatoid arthritis is the cause.  

If you previously experienced a traumatic injury to your ankle like a dislocation or a fracture, you’re seven times more likely to develop posttraumatic arthritis than someone without that type of injury. The same principle applies to other joints in your body like your knee.   

Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury of your calf muscles. If you’re a runner or play a sport like tennis or racquetball on the weekend, Achilles tendonitis may be the cause of your ankle pain. The Achilles tendon runs from your calf muscles down to your heel bone, so you can have pain in your ankle with this injury. You need to rest the ankle right away with this injury to prevent a tendon tear that could require surgery. 

There are several reasons aside from these four for ankle pain. Call Urgently Ortho for an appointment today, or book one online, if you have ankle pain and for all of your musculoskeletal needs. We’re here for you. 

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