Ankle Pain: Identifying and Treating Common Painful Conditions

Our poor feet have a tough job and they take a lot of abuse. They have to be strong enough to keep us upright and propel us while we walk or run. It’s a lot of work when you think about it. When things are going right, which is most of the time hopefully, we don’t think too much about the amount of stress we put on our feet. But, when something goes wrong and that pain sets in, suddenly it’s all we can think about and our lives are disrupted.

Our ankles are especially susceptible to injury. That’s because there is a lot going on in there. Tendons, muscle, bones, and a joint all do some heavy lifting, but can also fail when the stress becomes too much. Ankle pain is far too common. In fact, it’s one of the more common injuries that people of all lifestyles experience. The specific type of injury differs, to be sure, but ankle pain is nearly universal. Over one million people go to the emergency room every year because of ankle pain. It’s believed that each day about 25,000 Americans sprain their ankles.

It’s not just sprains that you need to worry about, though they are the most common ankle injury. Any type of ankle injury should be evaluated and treated by an orthopedist so you can make sure you’re getting the appropriate care. Many people have tried to “tough it out” with a bag of frozen vegetables on their ankle only to see the injury isn’t getting better. Here are some of the most common reasons why you would develop ankle pain.


Sprains

While sprains can be quite painful, they are also the most common and least serious of ankle injuries. Many of us have sprained our ankles at one point in our lives. Sprains occur when the ligaments in the ankle are stretched suddenly beyond their normal range of motion. That’s why sprains are so common in athletes. A sudden jerking or twisting motion of the foot is a recipe for a surefire ankle sprain.


Plantar fasciitis

Another common condition that can affect anyone, plantar fasciitis is a gradual wearing down of the feet due to stress. Runners get plantar fasciitis a lot, but so can those who are overweight or who work on their feet all day. Telltale signs of plantar fasciitis include redness, inflammation, and a dull pain in the heel that changes in intensity over the course of the day.


Posterior tibial tendonitis

As you can probably surmise, this is an issue with the tendon in your ankle compared to the ligaments or bones. Much like with other injuries, posterior tibial tendonitis can develop in one of two ways: a sudden trauma or gradual wear and tear. Again, athletes are especially susceptible to posterior tibial tendonitis due to the higher likelihood of a high impact injury. It can also strike people who are older or suffering from hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.


Arthritis

Arthritis affects the joints of millions of people every year. It may end up being your ankle that gets affected. There are many types of arthritis. Some, like gout, manifest in the foot almost exclusively. However, the most common type of arthritis that affects the ankle is osteoarthritis which is associated with older age. Years of wear and tear on the joint can cause arthritic inflammation to cause nagging ankle pain.


Fracture

A fracture is an acute injury to the bone that requires immediate attention. While there are some similarities with a sprain since sprains can be quite painful, a fracture is even more painful and debilitating. You more than likely won’t be able to stand and the pain will be immense, accompanied by swelling in the area. This won’t heal on its own and requires medical care. While accidents are generally the cause, people with osteoporosis or chronic low vitamin D levels can break bones more easily.


Instability

Chronic ankle instability is the reoccurring giving way of the outer side of the ankle. The ankle slips out of position while walking or running. In some people, it can happen just while standing. It can develop if you’ve sprained your ankle many times over the course of your life, weakening the ligaments that provide you with stability.


Conclusion

Who knew so many conditions could befall one part of the body? If you’re starting to think that your ankles are in for a world of hurt, don’t worry. While a variety of conditions can lead to ankle pain, relief is possible. Each condition or injury requires a different kind of care, so you need to turn to the experts in order to make sure you recover. If you’re suffering with ankle pain, book an appointment for a consultation. Dr. Nickson and the team at Next Step Orthopedics have the experience necessary to provide you with the care you need so you can live your life free of debilitating ankle pain.

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