Ankle Pain: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

What is Ankle Pain?

The ankle joint allows the up and down movement of your foot. This joint works hard to bear your weight and enable ease of movement. Just like other parts of your body, the ankle is also prone to pain.

Sometimes we know the cause of pain e.g. after falling down. In other instances, we feel pain for prolonged period but don’t know what caused it. This post discusses pain affecting this joint. Keep reading to find out more about causes, symptoms, treatment options, and more.

What are the Symptoms of Ankle Pain?

Symptoms of pain in the ankle can range in intensity from mild to severe. In some cases, pain can come and go while other people experience persistent pain in their ankle.

Signs and symptoms[1] of occasional and mild aches and pains are:

  • Difficulty to jog or jump because these activities induce pain as well
  • Discomfort, pain while running
  • Pain while walking

More severe cases of ankle joint pain symptoms are as follows:

  • Bruising
  • Burning sensation
  • Difficulty walking up and down the stairs
  • Dull pain
  • Inability to bear weight on an affected ankle
  • Inflammation and swelling of the ankle
  • Instability
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Pain persists even when you don’t move
  • Redness around ankle
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness

What Causes Ankle Pain?

Pain in your ankle can be a result of many different causes including injuries to the ankle joint, ligaments, or tendons.

Even several types of arthritis can lead to pain in this joint and make it difficult for you to walk or do daily tasks. Below, you can see the list of common causes of pain in ankle joint[2]:

Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain is the most common cause of pain in this area; it is an injury to the ligaments (tough bands of tissue) that surround and connect the bones of the leg to your foot. The injury occurs when the foot suddenly rolls or twists, thus forcing the ankle out of its normal position.

An ankle sprain is indicated by stiffness, skin discoloration, tenderness, swelling, bruising, and other symptoms.

Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis is defined as an overuse injury[3] of the Achilles tendon, the band of tissue connecting calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone.

This type of injury usually occurs in runners who have suddenly increased the duration or intensity of their runs.


Dislocation occurs when a bone slips out of a joint. You can dislocate any joint in your body, including ankle. Generally, the injury occurs when a joint experiences an unexpected or unbalanced impact.
Bear in mind that after joint dislocates, it may happen again in the future. This is a medical emergency, as well.


Broken foot
You may experience broken foot or ankle during a car crash or from a fall or any other type of accident.
The seriousness of fracture varies from tiny cracks in a person’s bones to breaks that pierce the skin. This is a medical emergency. Urgent care is required.


Gout is a common type of arthritis and yet another source of ankle pain. The condition is characterized by sudden, severe pain attacks, redness, and tenderness in joints.

While in most cases gout affects big toe, it can also develop in other joints in your body with emphasis on feet and ankles.

Flat Feet

Yes, having flat feet can also induce pain in your ankle joint. Basically, if you have flat feet, your feet don’t have a normal arch when you are standing.

As a result, you can experience pain and discomfort when doing an extensive physical activity, or even when you’re standing for a few hours. It is not uncommon for persons with flat feet to feel pain in lower legs and ankles.

Flat Feet

Other Conditions That Contribute To Ankle Pain

  • Blocked blood vessels
  • Bursitis
  • Infection of the joint
  • Nerve damage or injury
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteochondritis dissecans
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Pseudogout
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Septic arthritis

Ankle Pain Risk Factors

Everyone can experience pain in ankle joint, but some people are at a higher risk than the others. Common risk factors[4] are:

  • Attempting to participate in strenuous activities when you are in poor athletic condition
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Avoiding to warm up before physical activity
  • Muscle and ligament fatigue
  • Prior ankle injury


You should never ignore the pain in your ankle and hope it will go away on its own, particularly if the pain comes and goes and doesn’t allow you to walk or do some other types of physical activity properly.

Schedule an appointment to see your doctor and mention symptoms you experience. Based on your symptoms and physical exam, the doctor will suspect the true cause of pain but he/she may order some tests to rule out other conditions[5]. They are:

  • Imaging Tests: X-ray, CAT scan, MRI, bone scan
  • Lab Tests: blood test, tests of fluid drawn from the ankle joint

After diagnosing the problem that causes pain in your ankle, your doctor will recommend adequate treatment. The treatment options depend on your condition and cause of pain. It is highly important to adhere to the recommended treatment.

Fracture Xray

Things You Can Do

Although pain affecting the ankle can be a major source of frustration, you’re not totally helpless. Various self-measures ease the pain, including:

  • Elevate your foot above the level of your heart to prevent swelling
  • Place an ice pack on painful area
  • Reduce swelling with compression bandage
  • Take over-the-counter medications
  • Take some rest, keep the weight off your ankle

See More: Joint Pain: Symptoms, Causes, Complications And Treatments


Whenever you make a movement, you activate the ankle joint. Injuries, fractures, dislocations, and different health conditions can induce pain and discomfort in your ankles.

Instead of ignoring pain, schedule an appointment and see your doctor. Follow doctor’s orders and give a chance to self-measures to alleviate the pain.

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