Ankle pain

Causes | Diagnosis | Treatment

The ankle is one of the most intricate joints of the body being made up of a network of bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles.  Although it is strong enough to bear a person’s body weight, it can be prone to pain and injury because of how much it is used.  Pain can be felt on with inside or outside of your ankle or along the Achilles tendon, which connects your heel bone to the muscles in your lower leg.  Ankle pain that interferes with daily activities should be evaluated by a doctor.

Causes of Ankle Pain

Any injury to the bones, ligaments or tendons in the ankle can cause pain.  The most common cause of ankle pain is a sprain which occurs when the ankle joint is twisted or bent incorrectly.  A sprain usually happens when participating in a sports activity, however it can occur simply from walking on an uneven surface, changing direction quickly or making a misstep.  Other common causes of ankle pain may include:

  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Achilles tendon rupture
  • Broken ankle / broken foot
  • Bone spurs
  • Bursitis
  • Gout
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sprains/strains
  • Stress fractures
  • Obesity

Diagnosing Ankle Pain

Due to the numerous reasons that may cause ankle pain it is important to get an accurate diagnosis.  Your doctor will get a full history to rule out any pre-existing conditions.  A physical examination will be done to assess any bruising or swelling.  Your doctor may also order diagnostic imaging such as ultrasound, X-rays, MRI, or CTs to confirm diagnosis and possibly rule out any underlying conditions.

Treating Ankle Pain

The treatment of ankle pain will depend upon the cause of the pain and whether or not there are any injuries.  Most mild ankle pain can be treated with conservative measures such as rest, pain relievers, ice or heat, etc.  The experts at SCU Health can accurately diagnose the cause of pain and devise a treatment plan to get patients back to living an active lifestyle.  SCU Health offers a variety of treatment options and works with patients to determine the best option.

  • Acupuncture – clinical studies have shown acupuncture to be effective in treating ankle pain associated with conditions directly related to the ankle as well as referred pain from other parts of the body that affect the ankle and feet.
  • Chiropractic Care – chiropractic techniques and manipulation to affected joints can increase mobility and relieve pain.  Therapeutic exercise is almost always prescribed.
  • Physical Therapy Modalities/Procedures – these may include cold laser, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and therapeutic exercise.
  • Sports Medicine – our Sports Medicine team treats patients of any level of fitness and works with them to develop a customized treatment plan whether the joint pain is due to an injury or post-operative rehabilitation.
  • Weight Loss – our experts can customize a health, nutrition, and/or fitness plan to help patients lose excess weight that may be causing ankle and foot pain.  Losing just 5 to 10 pounds can make a significant different in the amount of pressure put on the hip joints.
  • Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) – research has shown that PRP therapy improves clinical outcomes and decreases further degeneration in patients suffering with osteoarthritis and other joint diseases or injuries.
  • Stem Cell Therapy – studies have shown that stem cell therapy can relieve pain from osteoarthritis, chronic tendonitis, as well as other ankle conditions.
  • Whole-Person Assessment – in some complex cases, factors such as diet, lifestyle, sleep, stress, insulin-sensitivity, gene-environment interactions, and hormone levels may interfere with a person’s ability to heal, and may need to be addressed.

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