Ankle Pain Causes and Treatments
The ankles are extremely important joints, providing the support and stability we need for, well, just about any way we move about normally. They do their jobs so well that they’re easy to take for granted—until we start experiencing ankle pain.
Ankle pain is not something to take lightly. There will naturally be some cases when you have twisted or tweaked your ankle and you recover quickly. But if pain persists and does not improve after a couple days, or it is interfering with your mobility, it’s time to give us a call.
What Can Cause Ankle Pain?
The ankle is home to bones, ligaments, tendons, and other soft tissues—all of which can be responsible for causing pain should they become injured or suffer some kind of condition. A few of the more common causes of ankle pain we see include:
- Ankle Sprains – Caused when twisting or rolling the ankle in an awkward or overly forceful way damages one or more ligaments that support the joint.
- Arthritis – The ankle has the potential to develop arthritis, the inflammation and gradual degradation of a joint. Arthritis may be the result of mechanical “wear and tear” (osteoarthritis), or it can be the result of the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacking the joint (rheumatoid arthritis).
- Flat Feet – While often a cause of heel pain, the way that flat feet can cause weight to be unevenly distributed and alter the way we walk can result in imbalances and pain in our ankles as well.
- Bursitis – An inflammation of one of the fluid-filled sacs (bursa) that provide cushioning between tendons and bones in the ankle. Also tends to be accompanied by stiffness and swelling.
Treating Ankle Pain
When a condition threatens the mobility and stability of the ankle, it’s very important to get to the root cause and begin an effective plan for treatment or management of symptoms.
We will conduct a full examination of your symptoms, and will very likely ask for your medical history as well, depending upon the situation. Some ankle conditions or weaknesses can be hereditary in nature, so knowing whether anyone else in your family has had ankle problems can be useful data. We may also test your gait to see how forces are being distributed across your ankles and feet.
Some causes of ankle pain, such as sprains, can heal with proper rest and immobilization. More chronic cases, such as arthritis, will likely require regular management of symptoms. In all cases, the goals are to provide as much pain relief as possible, as well as to improve or maintain mobility of the ankle.
Hylaronic acid injections: Products such as Synvisc and Orthovisc have been used in knees for years. We, at Advanced Foot and Ankle Centers of Illinois, have been using these in the ankles for many years with great results. They provide cushion in the joint and help heal the inside of the joint called the synovium.
Ankle Arthroscopy: The video is of a 29-year-old male. This patient broke his ankle 3 years prior and had it repaired surgically while in the Army. The patient is very athletic and was running and doing amateur MMA. Patient states that he always had some pain in his ankle after activities and during higher impact athletics. After conservative treatments such as cortisone injection, ankle braces, orthotics and physical therapy failed, we decided to perform the ankle arthroscopy. The procedure took about 30 minutes and the patient was able to bear weight right after the surgery in a walking boot.
The surgery cleaned up the joint and removed the fibrous bands and scar tissue from the trauma of the broken ankle. These things can accumulate from repeated ankle sprains, prolonged “wear and tear” and traumatic ankle fractures.
Failure to treat ankle injuries properly can lead to increased risks of ankle instability and recurring injuries. This is why we treat every ankle case thoroughly.
Surgery is only considered as a treatment option if conservative methods do not provide results. If surgery is considered, we will be sure to fully discuss all surgical options and effects with you so you can make a fully informed decision on your course of treatment.
We have seven offices in the Greater Chicago area to serve all of your foot and ankle needs. Please call any of them to schedule an appointment with us, or fill out our online contact form if you prefer to reach us electronically.