5 Common Causes of Chronic Ankle Pain

Your ankles are two of the most mobile joints in your body. They absorb stress with each step you take. But, because they’re so mobile, and because they do so much, they can be highly susceptible to injury.

Ankle damage is common among people of all ages. In fact, ankle sprains alone account for 25% of all sports injuries.

Acute pain typically goes away in a few weeks with proper care, but ankle pain that doesn’t go away can significantly impact your life. You may avoid engaging in your favorite hobbies or stop doing certain chores.

If ankle pain becomes chronic, it shouldn’t be ignored. David B. Glover, DPM, FACFAS, and our team at Mountain View Foot & Ankle Institute specialize in ankle care, and we can get you back on your feet again. In this blog, Dr. Glover goes over five common causes of ankle pain.

1. Arthritis

Arthritis is a degenerative condition that affects the joints. The two most common types are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, and both can cause chronic ankle pain, stiffness, and swelling.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that typically appears between the ages of 30-60. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system attacks healthy tissues in your joints.

Osteoarthritis, or wear-and-tear arthritis, develops as joints wear down with age. If you have osteoarthritis in your ankles, the cartilage that cushions the bones deteriorates, leaving the bones to grind against one another. 

2. Chronic ankle instability

Sprained ankles are some of the most common ankle injuries. But did you know that suffering one sprain can increase your risk of suffering a sprain in the future?

When you sprain an ankle, the ligaments surrounding the joint stretch beyond their usual range. They can heal, but your ankle may be weaker than it was before the injury. When you experience repeated sprains, you could develop chronic ankle instability.

If you have chronic ankle instability, your ankle may feel weak all the time. Furthermore, you may experience persistent pain, swelling, and tenderness in the joint.

3. Fracture

Fractures are broken bones. Acute ankle fractures happen in an accident or injury, and pain is typically sudden and sharp. You’ll likely know if you have an acute fracture, but other types of fractures — such as stress fractures — might not be so noticeable at first.

Stress fractures are small, hairline cracks that form in bones. They’re a common sports injury, because many athletes engage in strenuous, repetitive activities that wear joints down over time. A stress fracture could start small and get worse over time and cause chronic pain.

4. Gout

Gout is a common inflammatory condition, and it’s actually a type of arthritis. If you have gout, uric acid crystals collect in a joint of your body. While gout is most common in the big toe joint, it commonly affects the ankle, too.

Gout causes intense, sudden joint pain, swelling, warmth, and redness. It may start at night and wake you up. The pain is typically most intense in the first 4-12 hours of the attack, then lingers for days to weeks afterward.

5. Tendonitis

Along with the bones of the joints, your ankles contain lots of soft tissues, such as tendons and ligaments. Tendons connect your leg muscles to the bones in your feet and ankles, and the ligaments connect bones to other bones.

Tendonitis occurs because a tendon becomes inflamed due to overuse or injury. These injuries are notoriously slow-healing, which can lead to chronic ankle pain.

Ankle pain has many possible causes, but Dr. Glover and our team are committed to helping you find a treatment plan that works. We offer comprehensive care, including nonsurgical therapies and ankle arthroscopic surgery, to relieve your pain and improve joint health.

To get help for your ankle pain, book an appointment online or over the phone with Mountain View Foot & Ankle Institute today.

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