We don’t often spend much time thinking about our ankles; they’re a part of our body that we often take for granted. Ankle pain isn’t uncommon, but all too often we ignore that pain because we can’t stop our day-to-day activities. Ignoring this pain can prolong the problem or make the pain worse, so it’s important to consider what’s wrong and take appropriate action. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common causes of ankle pain and what you can do to treat your pain at home.
What are the most common causes of ankle pain?
Ankle pain is usually caused by trauma or overuse, though can be caused by a degenerative disease or weakness in the surrounding muscles. Here are some of the most common afflictions that cause ankle pain:
- Ankle Sprain: One of the common causes of ankle pain is ligament or joint sprain, where ligaments become overstretched and damaged due to injury. This leads to inflammation which leads to pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joint.
- Tendonitis: Another cause is tendonitis, where the tendons that connect muscle to bone become inflamed due to overuse or direct trauma.
- Bursitis: the ankle contains bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs that can become irritated and inflamed.
- Fractures: Ankle fractures are usually accompanied with severe pain and swelling, and most people feel unable to weight bear on their ankle due to the pain. However, in some cases, a hairline fracture may appear as sudden, severe pain that aches for days, especially when the ankle is used.
What can I do to treat ankle pain?
For Severe Pain
If the pain is severe and you find it difficult to walk, it’s best to go to see your doctor, or to the emergency room if the pain started within the past 72 hours. They’ll be able to x-ray your ankle and ensure there isn’t a fracture.
For Mild-to-Moderate Pain
If you know you’re treating an injury, either because you hurt your foot or it developed shortly after exercise, then rest your foot and ice it as much as possible. Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories (such as ibuprofen) will also help.
Icing and taking anti-inflammatories also help treat overuse injuries and degenerative issues, such as tendonitis and arthritis.
For issues like these, it’s important to balance resting with stretching and gentle exercise to ensure you don’t get overly stiff. Always listen to your body, and don’t push past the pain barrier, but if you can, do gentle stretches for your calf, ankle, and foot, and take walks if possible. Our eBook Joint Health 101 outlines numerous easy-on-the-ankle stretches and exercises that will help you rehabilitate your ankle at home.
Avoid carrying on with your training as if it’s not happening, even if you’re doing everything else. Remember, every time you train you’re putting your ankle under stress, so if you want it to get better you need to give it time to heal.
Make sure you wear good quality shoes that are the right size for you with adequate padding around the heel. If you commonly wear thin-soled shoes, invest in shoes or boots with a thicker bed under the foot. If you’re going to walk on uneven terrain, make sure you wear boots with ankle support, as this will help prevent you from turning your ankle if you step on uneven ground or slip.
Take Preventative Action
Wearing quality shoes, warming up, and cooling down properly when exercising will all help you prevent a recurrence of ankle pain in the future. It’s essential to build healthy, strong joints and improve the strength and mobility of surrounding muscles to support your ankle so you can live your life freely without the fear of reoccurring ankle pain. Our eBook Joint Health 101 is an incredible resource to dive into to build essential joint strength and mobility that can help you live better and stronger, whether you’re looking to overcome arthritic joints or start competing at the top level. Get it here.