Causes of Ankle Pain

Ankle pain seems like nothing more than a minor inconvenience…until you experience it yourself. Knowing what causes this pain is the first step to preventing or treating the pain. While the list of possible causes of ankle pain may seem endless, some potential causes are more common than others. Injuries make up a significant portion of this list, but various diseases and disorders may also lead to chronic pain. Some of the more common causes of ankle pain include:

  • Sprains – Sprains may be the most common cause of ankle pain. This occurs when the ligaments that connect the leg bones to the foot bones suffer an injury. Ankle sprains most often occur by traumatically twisting the ankle. Symptoms often include pain, bruising, and swelling. These injuries may range in severity, and are often treated with anti-inflammatory painkillers and rest.

  • Arthritis – Arthritis is the chronic swelling of a joint. The risk of the disease increases as the patient ages, but it is not unheard of for arthritis to develop in teenagers or even in children.

  • Tendinitis – Tendinitis is the inflammation and irritation of a tendon, the fibrous tissue that connects bone to muscle. This causes pain and tenderness, making it difficult to move the affected joint.

  • Tenosynovitis – This is just a long, fancy word for swelling of the tendon sheath. The job of the tendon sheath is to lubricate and protect the tendon. An injury of the tendon sheath may prevent the sheath from performing its functions, leading to inflammation in the entire ankle, pain, and decreased flexibility.

  • Pes Planus – Confuse your friends by using this medical term for flat feet. A patient with flat feet suffers from an abnormal shape in the arches, leading to an unnatural stretching of the tendons and ligaments in the bottom of the foot. As these tissues are pulled into an abnormal position, the patient may begin to experience pain and swelling not only in the soles of the feet, but in the ankles, calves, and even lower back. This is often treated with orthotic inserts in good, sturdy shoes to help build the arches back up.

  • Fractures – A break in a bone is considered a medical emergency. Without proper treatment, the fracture may lead to infection, blood clots, or improper healing, leading to deformity, pain, and possibly decreased mobility.

If you are experiencing ankle pain that doesn’t seem to go away or gets worse over time, your doctor may be able to help you determine the cause and the best course of treatment. If you suffer an accident and feel pain in your ankle, or any part of your body, seek emergency medical attention. An urgent care center may be able to assist you if the accident was a simple fall leading to a possible injury, but if there is any possibility of head, neck, or spinal injury, call an ambulance or have a friend or family member drive you to the emergency room right away.


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