Ankle Pain Treatments 101 – Causes, Effects & Treatments

Ankle Pain by Perfect Health Magazine

An ankle injury destroys the ligaments that connect the bones of the leg to the skeleton of the foot. As a result, swelling and pain may occur. 

While some people have ankle discomfort as a result of fractures or sprains, others experience pain from a different source. Arthritis or an autoimmune condition could be the reason.

The ideal treatment depends on the possible causes; hence, being safe than sorry is always better. Therefore, consulting a physician is best.

To learn more about how arthritis could be causing ankle pain read our The 2022 Arthritis Guide – Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Quick 30 Seconds Summary of Ankle Pain

  • Ankle pain is often a devastating pain that stops or limits the movement of the patient’s leg. 
  • Ankle pain maybe caused due to injury, accident, physical trauma or chronic arthritis. 
  • Physical examination followed by medical tests that doctors prescribe is used to diagnose ankle pain. 
  • Ankle pain is treated with the help of medication, physical therapy and assistive devices.

How is ankle pain diagnosed?

While doing a physical examination, your doctor will check your ankle, lower leg and foot. He will touch the injured area to know the points of tenderness and will move your foot to know its motion range. Such foot movement will also let him know the foot position which is causing pain.

In case of severe injury, your doctor may recommend some imaging scans to find out the broken bone or know more about ligament damage.

  • X-ray: In X-ray small amounts of radiation is passed through the body to get the images of ankles and bones. This test is good in case of fracture.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Such imaging scan uses radio waves and magnetic field to get detailed 3D images of the internal part of the ankle which also includes ligaments.
  • CT Scan: Through CT scan doctors can get more information about joint bones. In this scan X-rays are taken from different angles and combine them to form a cross-sectional or 3D image.
  • Ultrasound: In this sound waves are used to get real-time images. Such images will help doctors to know the ligament condition when the foot is in different positions.

What Are The Causes For Ankle Pain?

Here are causes for Ankle Pain:

Osteoarthritis

The cartilage cushion between two bones goes away with osteoarthritis, forcing the bones to grind against one other which leads to severe ankle pain. It’s also terribly uncomfortable. 

There may be some stiffness and pain as well. When you wake up in the morning, you can see that it’s been worse. This illness can induce discomfort that appears out of nowhere.

Rheumatoid arthritis

It is a type of arthritis that affects the joints. Your immune system attacks healthy tissue. When you have this chronic autoimmune condition, the lining of your joints, such as your ankle joints, is impacted. 

The indications, which generally begin in the toes and progress to the ankles, include pain, edema, and stiffness.

Reactive arthritis

A bacterial infection in another part of your body which can trigger arthritis symptoms. And one of the most common places impacted by reactive arthritis, is your ankles. Swelling and soreness in your knees, heels, and toes are possible.

Lupus

This is an autoimmune illness that results in inflammation. Swelling, muscle soreness, and joint pain in many regions of the body, including the feet and ankles, are common symptoms.

Bursitis

Bursitis of the ankle occurs when the little fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that act as cushions between the bones that make up your ankle joint become inflamed. It might occur as a result of an accident, but it can also develop as a result of overuse or stress on the ankle. Even an ill-fitting pair of shoes might trigger inflammation and irritation in those sacs.

Scleroderma

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease. Although the exact origin is uncertain, it appears that your immune system stimulates it. The overproduction of collagen, a fibrous protein that causes thicker, stiff skin. Scleroderma-related inflammation can cause edema and damage to many organ systems, tissues, and joints.

Collapsed Arches

When the tendons that support your feet are injured, the arches of your feet lose support, resulting in collapsed arches. It’s comparable to having flat feet, which occurs when the entire sole of your foot hits the ground instead of allowing a small amount of space between your toes and the ground.

Achilles tendon

The Achilles tendon connects the back of your heel to the calf muscle. Of course, an accident can rupture or tear it, but there are other reasons why you might have a sore ankle. Achilles tendinitis can develop as a result of excessive movement or repetitive activities.

Infections

An infection might spread to your ankle, causing pain. Bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus, and Enterobacter are responsible to cause the pain.

Home remedies for Ankle sprains and ankle tendonitis

  • Rest: For most ankle illnesses, the first line of treatment is to just rest and wait for the acute inflammation to decrease. If you have minimal ankle pain, this may be the only thing you need to do. 
  • Ice or cold gel packs – To keep swelling down and ease the pain, ice should be applied numerous times each day.
  • Compression bandages – An ACE wrap, can aid in the support and fixation of your ankle joint. However, take care not to over-compress.

Elevation – It is the process of raising your ankle above the level of your heart. This will decrease swelling.

Stability Items

Crutches or a cane, ankle braces or splints, orthotics, and a cast may be required depending on the type of injury. Your healthcare professional will advise one of these based on the nature of the ailment and its cause.

Physical therapy for Ankle Pain

It’s usually applied for a range of ankle ailments, including strains, tendinitis, and ankle surgery recovery. Physical therapists employ a variety of recovery activities to help you strengthen your ankle muscles, regain mobility, reduce stiffness, and avoid chronic ankle problems.

Medications for Ankle Pain

  • NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for the discomfort caused by arthritis, sprains, or tendonitis. 
  • Stronger pain drugs, such as opioids, may be provided for a limited period for more severe pain, like – serious fracture.
  • Cortisone, a steroid that lowers inflammation, can be injected into the ankle joint for severe cases of arthritis, though the benefit is for a shorter period.

Ankle Pain Surgical Remedies

  • Treatment for certain ankle disorders may include surgery. An orthopedic surgeon, for example, will need to use screws, pins, rods, or plates to set and put the ankle bones back in place after a serious ankle fracture.

  • Ankle Arthroscopic – Your surgeon may conduct debridement to remove loose cartilage, inflammatory tissue, and bony growths around the joint in the early stages. This procedure can be done arthroscopically, which includes introducing a small camera into the ankle joint by the surgeon. “Clean out” tools can then be put via tiny incisions.
  • Arthrodesis of the Ankle – Arthrodesis, which involves connecting the ankle bones to prevent the diseased joint from shifting and thus eliminating pain, is another surgery for ankle arthritis.
  • Arthroplasty of the Ankle – Ankle arthroplasty is a procedure in which a surgeon removes diseased cartilage and bone from the ankle and replaces it with ankle implants.

Risk or complications associated with ankle pain

Let’s take a look on some of the risks or complications which are uncommon but may include:

  • Arthritis: Fracture which reaches till joint may lead to arthritis at older age. If your ankle starts paining long after a break, then you should consult a doctor.
  • Bone infection: In case of open fracture, especially when one end of the bone extends beyond the skin, your bone becomes susceptible to bacteria which can cause infection.
  • Blood vessel or nerve damage: Ankle pain can sometimes rupture the nerves and blood vessels which can tear them. Consult your doctor immediately, if you feel any numbness or circulation problem in the ankle. Lack of blood can cause a bone to die or collapse.

Preventive measures for Ankle Pain

By maintaining appropriate muscular strength and flexibility in the ankle, a lot of ankle injuries can be avoided. You can use the following simple measures to assist prevent an ankle injury:

  • Wearing the proper footwear.
  • Slow down or stop your activities if your foot or ankle hurts.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight is important since obesity can cause ankle tendonitis and put stress on arthritic ankle joints.

Conclusion

It may well be simple to get to the root of your ankle pain and get back on your feet. For some cases, it will require patients for a thorough examination. Nevertheless, after you've received your diagnosis, you can begin a medication regimen step-by-step process to fully recover back!