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5 Common Causes of Ankle Pain

We’ve all been there. Running down the field, or perhaps just walking down the street — you hit an uneven patch of ground and turn an ankle. If you’re lucky, you don’t injure yourself and can keep going, but you might also end up with ankle pain that gets in the way of your life.

Here at Kazmer Foot & Ankle Centers, in Elgin and Barrington, Illinois, our board-certified podiatrist, Gary M. Kazmer, DPM, had over 24 years of experience and diagnoses and treats all causes of ankle pain, helping you get back to your regular activities quickly and safely.

5 common causes of ankle pain

Your ankle is a delicate but sturdy joint comprised of three bones — your tibia, fibula, and talus. The bones are all held together with a network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that help you flex your foot so you can walk, jump, and run, while also providing stability and balance. When any part of your ankle is injured or worn down from overuse, it results in ankle pain. The five most common causes of ankle pain include:

1. Sprains

A sprain occurs when you overstretch or tear the ligaments in your ankle. Sprains usually happen when your ankle twists or rolls awkwardly, and you might hear or feel a popping sensation at the time of the injury. Ankle sprains cause pain and tenderness, and your ankle becomes swollen and bruised. You may have a reduced range of motion as well as instability until it heals. 

Treatment for ankle sprains depends on the severity of your injury. For example, mild injuries can improve with the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method, while severe ligament tears might need surgical repair. 

2. Fractures 

Ankle fractures are also widespread injuries that range in severity from simple hairline cracks to compound fractures that force the bones out through your skin. If you have an ankle fracture, it’s critical to get professional treatment to ensure it heals correctly. Otherwise, you could suffer from long-term problems like instability and weakness. 

Here at Kazmer Foot & Ankle Centers, we provide customized treatments for ankle fractures including bracing, casts, and, when necessary, surgery. 

3. Achilles tendinitis

Your Achilles tendons are the thick bands of connective tissue that join your calf muscles to your ankles and feet. They’re essential to your ability to flex and point your foot. Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury that causes inflammation and pain in the tendons. The condition often develops when you suddenly increase the amount or intensity of your physical activity, and it can also be caused if you have tight calf muscles or bone spurs. 

The RICE method is a critical part of treatment for Achilles tendinitis. You might also benefit from anti-inflammatory medication, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, and/or physical therapy. In severe cases, Dr. Kazmer can surgically repair torn or ruptured Achilles tendons. 

4. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions and lubricates your joints wears away. As your bones rub together, they create friction that irritates your joint, causing inflammation, stiffness, and pain. Osteoarthritis is a common cause of mobility problems, but with proper treatment, you can maintain a pain-free active life. 

Depending on your needs, Dr. Kazmer might recommend anti-inflammatory medication, orthotics, or PRP injections. You might also benefit from physical therapy.

5. Gout

Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when uric acid crystals build up in your joints. While gout most often occurs in the joint of your big toe, it can also affect your ankles. Gout causes swelling, pain, and tenderness. The condition usually causes flare-ups of symptoms followed by periods of remission.

Gout treatment most often involves lifestyle modifications to reduce your uric acid levels, such as cutting back on alcohol, red meat, and seafood. Dr. Kazmer can also prescribe medication to help regulate your uric acid levels and manage your pain during a flare-up. If you have gout, prevention is your goal. 

When to talk to a podiatrist about ankle pain

If you have ankle pain, your body is warning you that something is wrong. You can manage ankle pain at home with the RICE method and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. However, if your pain doesn’t start to get better with a couple of days of rest, give us a call at one of our locations or book an appointment online for expert assessment and treatment.

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