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Ankle pain may be caused by an injury, such as a sprain, or a medical condition.

Ankle sprains occur when ligaments are torn or overstretched, making up 85 percent of all ankle injuries.

Ankle pain may be caused by injury to the bones, joint space, cartilage, tendons, ligaments or muscles. Pain in the ankle may be associated with additional symptoms, such as redness, bruising, instability, ankle swelling, numbness or tingling, burning pain, stiffness, weakness and inability to bear weight on the affected ankle.


Ankle Pain as a Symptom

Ankle pain may be a symptom of the following conditions:

  • Ankle sprain
  • Bursitis
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Avulsion fracture
  • Broken foot
  • Osteochondritis dissecans
  • Arthritis (osteoarthritis, septic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis)
  • Gout
  • Pseudogout
  • Stress fractures
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome
  • Blocked blood vessels
  • Injection in the joint
  • Nerve damage or injury, such as sciatica
  • Lupus
  • Scleroderma

How to Relieve Ankle Pain at Home

Individuals experiencing ankle pain may treat their condition with:

  • Rest. Avoid moving the ankle and putting weight on it. Use crutches and a brace when walking.
  • Ice. Ice the ankle for 20 minutes at a time, three to five times a day for three days after the injury to help reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
  • Compression. Use a bandage to wrap the ankle.
  • Elevation. Use pillows to keep the ankle raised above heart level.

Individuals experiencing severe pain may take over-the-counter pain relief medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Once the pain subsides, they should rotate the ankle in circles to help return normal range of motion and speed up the recovery process. Ankle pain caused by a strain should resolve within two weeks.

Ankle pain that is caused by arthritis may be relieved by:

  • Applying topical pain relievers
  • Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Staying physically active
  • Eating healthy
  • Stretching to maintain adequate range of motion in the joints
  • Staying within a health weight range to lessen stress on the joints

When to See a Doctor

Individuals who experience extreme swelling or bruising and are unable to put weight or pressure on the ankle without severe pain should schedule an appointment with their physician.

During the initial visit, the physician will perform a physical examination, review the patient’s medical history and order the necessary imaging exams. Based on the results, patients may benefit from an ankle joint injection.

Benefits of an Ankle Joint Injection

The procedure may provide the following benefits:

  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Reduce swelling and stiffness in the ankle
  • Provide relief that lasts from three to six months
  • Noninvasive, nonsurgical procedure

Risks and Side Effects of an Ankle Joint Injection

The procedure is relatively safe. Common or possible side effects include infection, increased pain and weakness. Patients should speak to their physician to determine if an ankle joint injection is an appropriate treatment for them.

What to Expect During an Ankle Joint Injection Procedure

The physician will begin by cleansing the injection site with an antiseptic. An ultrasound machine will be used to ensure the needle is inserted in the correct place. Once the needle is correctly positioned, the local anesthetic and steroid will be injected.