Ankle pain is any kind of pain or discomfort in your ankles. This could be caused by an injury or a medical condition. The most common cause of ankle pain, however, is an ankle sprain, accounting for 85% of all ankle injuries. The pain can be severe, and it is advisable to consult with your doctor, but there are steps you can take on your own to help relieve some pain.
Listed below are some of the most common causes of ankle pain and how to identify them.
1. Sprained Ankle
A sprained ankle is a tear that occurs in the tissues that hold your bones together, known as ligaments. The ligament’s role is to aid in stabilizing the joints – inhibiting unwarranted movement, an injury occurs, therefore, when they are forced out of their normal range of motion i.e. by twisting, rolling, or turning your ankle in an odd position. The most common types of injuries to the ligaments occur on the outer side of the ankle and a usual sign of a sprained ankle is bruising and swelling.
Symptoms depend on the severity of the injury, however, most include one of the following:
- Restricted range of motion
- Instability in the ankle
Usually, sprains can be taken care of with simple self-care measures, however, if the symptoms don’t reduce with these steps it is important to call your doctor to check if further steps need to be taken. In some cases, a minor sprain could lead to significant ligament damage or a broken bone in your lower leg or ankle, therefore, it is important to keep your doctor in the loop.
2. Osteoarthritis (OA)
Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the protective tissue holding the ends of two bones together, called cartilage, breaks down. This causes the bones to rub together causing, further, significant pain and stiffness. The joint is where these two bones come together, therefore, OA is caused by joint damage.
It is more likely to occur in older people as this damage accumulates over time i.e. through wear and tear on the joints but can also happen to adults of any age. OA mostly affects the hands, knees, hips, fingertips, and spine, however, it can develop in any joint. Joint damage can be caused by a past injury such as a torn cartilage, ligament injuries, or dislocated joints as well as by poor posture, joint malformation, or obesity.
The most typically associated symptoms with this condition include:
- Loss of flexibility
- Bone spurs
- Grating sensation
The intensity of the pain and the swelling in and around the area of the infected joints increases as osteoarthritis advances. It is then vital to recognize the symptoms of OA early on, to not let the condition advance, and to manage it better.
Gout occurs when there is a buildup of uric acid in the body, usually affecting your feet. It is a general term for a range of conditions caused by this buildup. This high concentration of uric acid in the body, usually a by-product of the body’s natural breakdown of old cells, can deposit as crystals in the joints. This results in sudden pain making it feel as though the affected area was on fire.
The excess of uric acid can be linked to certain conditions like blood and metabolism disorders, dehydration, an issue with kidneys or thyroid, or an inherited disorder. Gout can typically affect middle-aged men or postmenopausal women, people who indulge in alcohol, and people who have existing conditions like high blood pressure, thyroid disease, kidney disease, sleep apnea, or diabetes.
The symptoms are where it gets trickier to understand this condition. It can be broken down into two categories:
- Asymptomatic gout: Having too much uric acid in the blood but with no obvious symptoms.
- Acute gout: symptoms like intense pain, swelling and joints feeling warm come on quickly, lasting from 3 to 10 days, due to the buildup of uric acid crystals in your joint. You may not have any symptoms between gout attacks.
Treating it is vital as gout can become chronic and further develop hard lumps called tophi, permanently damaging your joints.
4. Septic Arthritis
Septic arthritis is when there is an infection in the joints that are caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. This can cause pain and discomfort in the affected areas, your ankle for example. The infection occurs either when germs travel, from another part of your body, through your bloodstream or when germs are directly delivered into the joint by a penetration injury.
Its symptoms include:
- Joint pain
The condition affects hips, shoulders, and, more commonly, knees. It is also more likely to be developed in infants and older adults.
Ankle pain and the injuries associated with it, though severe, can be treated. Even though sprains account for the maximum number of ankle injuries it is important to be treated with the utmost care as well so as to not exacerbate the condition. For this and any other conditions that result in pain, we recommend a pain relief oil to heal the condition faster and more thoroughly.