All About Ankle Pain

All About Ankle Pain
No matter how long or little your on your feet during the day, ankle pain can be a real bummer. Our feet take us everywhere we need to be and our ankles support our weight as we move. Depending on the pain, you might just need proper rest…or, it might be more serious than that.
But, instead of running (or limping) to the doctor, it’s important to be familiar with various types of ankle pain so you can get a general sense of what to do next. So let’s take a look at which might be annoying and which might require more treatment. 

What is the most common type of ankle pain?

Luckily, most instances of ankle pain come from sprains which are not that serious. A sprain most often occurs when the ankle abruptly bends either outward or inward. The ligaments, rope-like tissues which connect bones, and tendons, which connect muscles to bones, experience over-stretching or micro-tears.  
When a sudden injury like this happens, it is considered an “acute” injury and doctors recommend the R.I.C.E treatment for the first three days:
  • Rest and avoid putting weight on your foot
  • Ice your ankle to reduce swelling. Only ice for 20 minutes at a time and with 90 minute breaks in between each time.
  • Compress with a stretchy bandage to help reduce inflammation and keep your ankle still. Remember to avoid wrapping so tightly that your foot goes numb or the skin turns blue. 
  • Elevate your leg to speed up healing. Aim for elevation over the heart level if possible.
Over-the-counter medications can be used to help deal with the pain, but make sure you consult your doctor to see if a certain medication is okay for you to take. If there is no improvement after the R.I.C.E treatment and pain medicine, you might have a more serious tear. Sometimes, only more time is needed to heal, but it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor. 

More causes of ankle pain 

There may not be an obvious explanation for your ankle pain. In these cases, the pain may come from a chronic disease or an injury that never fully healed. Here are some other common reasons your ankle may hurt:
  • Tendonitis: This is when the tendons of the ankle become inflamed and cause sudden or gradual pain at the affected area. It can result from overuse of joints or using bad technique during a particular an activity. Older people are more likely to experience tendonitis since tendons become less flexible with age.
  • Fractures: Breaks in the bone which may be mild or more severe.
  • Bursitis: Inflames the bursae of joints; bursae are fluid-filled sacs that cushion joints so that they move smoothly.  
  • Arthritis: When the cartilage that cushions bone breaks down and causes pain from bones rubbing together. There are several types of ankle arthritis.
  • Gout: This is a condition where uric acid builds up in the body and deposits crystals or unwanted calcium in joints.
  • Infection. There are several types of infections which can affect the joint itself or the surrounding bone. Infection is pretty rare but still something to be on the lookout for. 

Treatments for Ankle Pain

Depending on what your doctor may diagnose you with, these are some various treatments you can try in order to find relief:
  • Physical therapy 
  • Joint aspiration, which removes fluid build-up that irritates the joint
  • Prescription medications
  • Steroid injections
  • Surgery 

Risk Factors of Ankle Pain

Keep in mind that these factors may put you more at risk for experiencing ankle problems:
  • Being over 65 years old
  • Being overweight
  • Participating in a sport which requires a lot of jumping and quick movements
  • The shape of your ankle joint may make you more susceptible 
  • Previous injuries to the ankle

Preventing Ankle Pain

Though we can’t stop the natural aging process, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing more serious ankle pain or problems from aging or activity:
  • Wear the right footwear. The right footwear for the right activity is extremely important for those who experience pain. Make sure to pair your new shoes with quality insoles that will work to align your body. 
  • Lose weight so there is less pressure on your ankles and feet 
  • Stretch and warm-up properly before exercising 
  • Workout the muscles in your legs to increase support
  • Learn proper technique for an activity or sport
  • Immediately stop if you think an activity is causing you pain 
Remember that all ankle pain is different and should be examined by a doctor if it persists. And let’s remember to care for our ankles and all the other joints that work hard to keep us moving!
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