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Ankle Pain: What’s The Cause?


The ankle is the meeting point of the leg and foot and comprises three joints. It is also known as the talocrural region and contains the ankle joint, subtalar joint, and inferior tibiofibular joint. It is surrounded by several tendons and ligaments that encapsulate it and increase its strength and stability. They also connect the lower muscles of the calf with the heel of the foot and play a role in the weight-bearing process. Thus, it is a vital region capable of bearing the body weight and making us mobile.

Ankle pain is a common complaint nowadays. It might be caused by some negligent practice, like wearing tight shoes or overloading with vigorous exercises. In most cases, ankle pain is mild and easily treated with over-the-counter medications and home-based therapies. It can get severe under certain conditions like fracture, tendon rupture, or some systemic disorder. From local wear and tear to systemic inflammatory disorders, the ankle is susceptible to all the local trauma and central disease processes. Below is a list of the most common causes of ankle pain:

Sprains: Ankle sprain is the most common cause of ankle pain. It accounts for more than 75% of reported cases of ankle pain. This type of ankle pain is commonly seen in athletes and runners. Ankle sprains occur when a person positions their foot incorrectly, causing their body weight to center on a single tendon or ligament, which in turn gets torn. This tearing of muscles and ligaments causes pain and swelling. Common sprains can be treated at home by resting and applying ice to the injured area. In most cases, a person can take over-the-counter painkillers to help relieve the pain. However, a doctor may prescribe a short-term cast in severe and prolonged ankle pain cases.

Rheumatoid arthritis: The most common systemic cause of ankle pain is RA. It starts with the toes and gradually leads to the ankle joint. Rheumatoid arthritis causes the ankle joint to become inflamed, stiff, and painful. Hot and cold therapy, exercise, and, in some cases, physiotherapy can help to relieve or lessen the pain caused by RA.

Gout: Stiffness and pain in the ankle caused by the deposition of uric acid crystals in the ankle is known as gout. In the later stages of gout, it can mimic rheumatoid arthritis pain by causing inflammation and pain in the ankle. Systemic treatment of increased uric acid is done to treat this kind of ankle pain.

Lupus: This autoimmune disease produces immune complexes that destroy the healthy tissues, and the ankle can become a victim of this disorder.

Fracture: A fracture is one of the worst forms of a local ankle injury. A fracture of any of the three bones (tibia, fibula, and talus) that make up the ankle can cause severe pain and immobility. If your doctor discovers a fracture, they may set a cast around the foot and ankle. In the case of a severe fracture, you may need surgery before you can get a cast.

Other possible causes of ankle pain include:

Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendon rupture


Flat feet

Plantar fasciitis


Avulsion fracture


Psoriatic arthritis

Reactive arthritis


Stress fractures

Septic arthritis

Carpel tunnel syndrome

Osteochondral lesions of the talus (OLT)


Infection of the heel

Making a Diagnosis for Ankle Pain

While your doctor diagnoses your ankle’s pain, detailed general and medical histories are essential to distinguish between various causes. The points below help doctors diagnose foot pain, which includes pain in the ankle:

Determine if the onset of pain is sudden or gradual.

Find the exact location of the pain.

Whether pain radiates in the foot or not

Which factors increase pain, and which factors relieve pain?

Find out if there is a specific time of the day pain occurs.

The doctor makes a general examination of the ankle and heel to establish any cause of pain. Many foot problems are apparent from a simple foot examination. This includes an inspection for any swelling on the ankle, abnormal skin texture, color change, and any other inborn visible deformity in the ankle region. An essential thing in this regard is to check the range of motion at the ankle joint. Watching you stand and walk will also help you make a diagnosis. Although X-rays are not very important in this scenario, they can be taken if your doctor suspects a bone fracture due to stress or trauma or if there are any abnormalities related to the ankle joint.

Find A Pain Management Doctor In Houston

It would be best if you never learned to tolerate your pain symptoms. Several treatment options are available to relieve your pain so you can return to living a happier, healthier lifestyle.

If you are struggling with ankle pain, you should consider seeking professional care from a pain management doctor in Houston who specializes in ankle pain. If you live in or near Houston, The Woodlands, or Spring, consider seeking professional care from Texas Intergrative Pain Management Pain.

At TIPI Pain Management, we are a team of highly advanced pain specialists committed to helping you reduce your pain so you can take back control over your life. We understand how debilitating pain can be, especially when you’ve seemingly tried many treatments unsuccessfully.

We offer a range of treatments, from injection therapies to medication, so you receive the best treatment to manage your symptoms. Contact us today by calling 346-888-5237 to learn more about how we can help reduce your pain symptoms.

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