A painful ankle, often accompanied by swelling, can really put a damper on your week. Not only does it make getting around difficult, but it can be a sign of a medical issue that needs treatment before it becomes more serious. When experiencing unexplained ankle pain, it's always a good idea to make an appointment with an ankle doctor or podiatrist. Until your appointment, check out these five common causes of ankle pain to get a good handle on what may be causing yours.
If you're experiencing pain in your Achilles tendon after recently increasing your physical activity level, you may very well have Achilles tendinitis. This condition is actually an injury caused by straining and overusing the tendon that connects the back of your calf to your heel. Achilles Tendinitis commonly occurs when a runner suddenly increases their speed or distance, or when someone who previously didn't get much exercise starts playing basketball, tennis, or any sport that places strain on the heels.
If your ankle is suddenly extremely painful, red, and tender, and the pain seems to have come out of nowhere, you may have gout. Gout also often shows up as pain in the big toe. Untreated gout can become more serious and lead to joint damage, so it's important to get to a doctor if you suspect you have this condition. Luckily, gout is very treatable, usually through medication. Once treated, future gout flare-ups can be prevented through dietary and lifestyle changes.
Pain, tenderness and swelling at the back of your heel may be caused by bursitis. Bursitis happens when the fluid-filled sacs that cushion your joints and ligaments become irritated and inflamed. On your heel this is usually caused by overdoing a new workout regimen (especially one that involves a lot of jumping) or by repetitive kneeling, such as while gardening or doing home improvement projects like laying new tile. Bursitis can often be treated simply by resting the affected area, icing it, and taking anti-inflammatories.
If you've recently rolled or twisted your ankle while walking, running or playing sports, and are now experiencing ankle pain, you probably have a sprained ankle. A minor sprained ankle can often be treated at home but this depends on the severity of the sprain so it's always best to have it checked out by a podiatrist. A severely sprained ankle may require crutches or even physical therapy.
The thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom length of your foot is called the plantar fasciitis. When this band of tissue becomes injured it often results in severe heel pain, sometimes with accompanying pain on the soles of your feet. The pain of plantar fasciitis can be distinguished from other types of heel pain because it is normally a sharp, stabbing feeling that is especially pronounced when you first get up in the morning.
Plantar fasciitis is especially common in runners and dancers, but can also affect the overweight or anyone who regularly wears shoes that are too tight or don't offer adequate cushioning and support, especially if they're on their feet all day. Your doctor will be able to determine the severity of your plantar fasciitis and the appropriate treatment, which might include over-the-counter pain medication, physical therapy, custom-made arch supports for your shoes, steroid shots, and even surgery in some rare, severe cases.
If you're experiencing any of these five painful conditions, it's time to get to an ankle doctor. In the meantime, try to avoid putting too much weight or strain on your ankle and try to manage the pain with ibuprofen.