The ankle is considered one of the joints in the body that are prone to injuries. The constant flexion and extension of the ankle while walking can result to injury and pain or it can worsen a current condition. The ankle pain might be a symptom of an ankle sprain, osteoarthritis or tendinitis. The management typically includes getting enough rest, application of cold therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs. A doctor should be consulted if the ankle pain persists despite these measures.
When an individual ends up with an ankle sprain, the ligaments that surround the ankle are overly stretched or torn. If the individual stepped on a hole or twisted the ankle, it can result to a minor to severe sprain.
Aside from the discomfort, the individual can also end up with bruising, swelling and diminished range of motion. An ankle sprain can also cause an evident limp while walking and can prevent the individual from engaging in other activities such as jumping and running.
Tendinitis occurs once the tendons are inflamed and irritated. It is important to note that this condition is considered as a chronic or overuse injury that is caused by repetitive movements. Factors such as the age, overtraining and increase in the intensity of a workout can increase the risk for developing tendinitis around the ankle.
The ankle pain, swelling and popping sensation are indications of tendinitis. With the advanced cases of tendinitis, the individual can experience constant ache that worsens while walking, jumping or running.
Impingement syndrome develops once the tendons or nerves surrounding the ankle are compressed which leads to long-lasting ankle pain. Runners, dancers, volleyball players and those who play high jump face a higher risk for developing this syndrome. The constant flexion and extension of the foot and ankle while walking can lead to nerve and tendon compression as well. Other symptoms that can occur include joint stiffness, swelling and numbness.
Previous injuries to the ankle, normal wear and tear as well as overuse can result to osteoarthritis over time. Osteoarthritis occurs from the gradual wearing out of cartilage in the ankle. The usual signs and symptoms include the following:
- Grinding sensation during movement of the ankle
- Pain deep within the joint
- Stiffness of the joint
- Ankle instability
In most cases, bone spurs inside the ankle joint and joint deformity are complications of advanced osteoarthritis. Weight-bearing activities such as walking can aggravate the ankle pain and cause further deterioration.
Once an individual suspects that the ankle pain is the result of a minor injury, the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is used but it is best to seek treatment if the pain persists. Depending on the degree of injury and exact cause of ankle pain, the doctor might prescribe NSAIDs specifically ibuprofen as well as corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, orthotics and even surgical intervention.