Ankle Pain

Ankle pain can arise from a variety of conditions or issues affecting the bones, ligaments, tendons, or muscles in the ankle area. Some common conditions associated with ankle pain include:

  1. Ankle Sprain: Overstretching or tearing of ligaments, lateral (outside) ankle sprain is most common
  2. Ankle Strain: Injury to the muscles or tendons around the ankle.
  3. Fracture: Broken bone in the ankle joint.
  4. Achilles Tendinitis: Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, often due to overuse.
  5. Arthritis: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout affecting the ankle joint.
  6. Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that reduces friction in the joint.
  7. Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD): Dysfunction or injury of the tendon that supports the arch of the foot.
  8. Impingement Syndromes: Pinching or compressing of ankle or foot structures.
  9. Infections: Such as cellulitis affecting the skin around the ankle.
  10. Nerve Compression: Like tarsal tunnel syndrome, where the tibial nerve is compressed.
  11. Chronic ankle instability: Repetitive spain of the ligaments leading to ankle instability.
  12. Shin splints: Overuse injury to the shin bone or tendon.

Less commonly, ankle pain can be a referred symptom from problems in other areas of the body, such as the lower back. Always consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment if you’re experiencing persistent or severe ankle pain.

Symptoms of ankle pain can vary depending on the underlying cause, but common indicators may include:

  1. Localised Pain: Pain specifically in the ankle region, which may vary from a dull ache to sharp, intense pain.
  2. Swelling: Puffiness or edema around the ankle joint.
  3. Redness or Warmth: Indicating inflammation or infection.
  4. Bruising: Particularly after trauma like a sprain or fracture.
  5. Stiffness: Limited range of motion in the ankle joint.
  6. Instability: Feeling of “giving way” while walking or standing.
  7. Tenderness: Sensitivity when pressing on the ankle area.
  8. Limping: Altered gait or walking pattern due to pain.
  9. Numbness or Tingling: Could be a sign of nerve involvement.
  10. Clicking or Popping Noise: Sometimes indicative of a structural issue in the ankle.
  11. Difficulty Bearing Weight: Trouble standing or walking due to pain or weakness.

Ankle pain can be caused by a variety of factors affecting the bones, ligaments, tendons, or muscles in the ankle area. Here are some common causes:

  1. Ankle Sprain: Overstretching or tearing of the ligaments in the ankle, usually due to sudden twisting or turning.
  2. Fracture: A broken bone in the ankle joint, often caused by trauma or impact.
  3. Achilles Tendinitis: Inflammation or degeneration of the Achilles tendon, usually due to overuse or age-related wear and tear.
  4. Arthritis: Conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout can cause ankle pain.
  5. Strains: Injury to the muscles or tendons surrounding the ankle.
  6. Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that reduces friction in the joint.
  7. Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD): Dysfunction or injury of the tendon that supports the arch of the foot, causing pain and instability.
  8. Nerve Compression: Conditions like tarsal tunnel syndrome can cause tingling, numbness, and pain.
  9. Impingement: Pinching of tissues in the ankle joint, often due to repetitive motion or trauma.
  10. Infection: Cellulitis or osteomyelitis could be the source of ankle pain.
  11. Overuse or Repetitive Stress: Constant stress on the ankle without adequate rest can lead to pain.

The best treatment for ankle pain depends on the underlying cause.

  • Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used as directed to manage pain.
  • Physiotherapy: Exercises may be recommended to strengthen the ankle, balance and improve range of motion.

For more severe or persistent cases:

  • Corticosteroid Injections: May be used for arthritis or severe inflammation.
  • Surgery: Procedures like fracture repair, ligament reconstruction, or arthroscopy could be considered in extreme cases.
  • Imaging: X-rays, MRI, or CT scans may be required for a more accurate diagnosis.

Depending on the severity and underlying cause, a diagnosis and rehabilitation can be varied. Specialists who commonly treat ankle pain include:

  1. Orthopaedic Surgeon: Specialises in the musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons.
  2. Physiotherapist: For guided exercises to improve strength and mobility.
  3. Podiatrist: Focuses specifically on foot and ankle conditions.
  4. Sports Medicine Specialist: For injuries related to physical activity.

Your healthcare provider may also recommend imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans, physiotherapy, or other treatments based on the diagnosis. 

Exercise can be beneficial for managing ankle pain, but the appropriateness of exercise largely depends on the underlying cause of the pain. For certain conditions like minor sprains or strains, specific exercises may help strengthen the ankle and improve range of motion. However, for other conditions like fractures or severe tendon injuries, rest and immobilisation may be necessary before any exercise can be safely introduced. 

Whether or not you will need surgery for ankle pain depends on the specific diagnosis, the severity of the condition, and how well it responds to conservative treatments. Surgery is typically considered a last resort when other treatment options have failed to provide relief or if the structural integrity of the ankle is compromised.

Here are some situations where surgery might be considered:

  1. Severe Fracture: If bones are displaced or the joint surface is damaged.
  2. Chronic ankle Instability: Repeated sprains or feelings of the ankle “giving way” despite conservative treatment.
  3. Severe Arthritis: In cases where joint damage is extensive and significantly impairs quality of life.
  4. Tendon Tears or Ruptures: Sometimes require surgical intervention if they do not heal with conservative management.
  5. Bone Spurs or Other Structural Abnormalities: That cause chronic pain or mobility issues.
  6. Joint Deformities: Such as those caused by certain types of arthritis or injury.
  7. Nerve Entrapment: Rarely, compressed nerves may require surgical decompression.

Chews Health top tip for ankle pain

Always consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan, which may include imaging tests, a review of medical history, and a physical examination. Good early management of ankle pain is important for a good outcome.

Our Specialists

Melanie Clarke
Melanie Clarke
We’ll be forever grateful to Chews, the guys are the absolute BEST IN CLASS when it comes to a fully tailored recovery plan. Our son is a young elite competitive acrobatic gymnast who sadly had a high impact fall at gymnastics dislocating and fracturing his elbow and needed surgery, for a gymnast that trains many hours over 4 days week it was devastating blow, especially with GB competitions coming up. Once out of cast (wk 4 post opp) we started 2 x weekly physio sessions with Richard Saxton (who specialises in child’s physio), he was thorough, diligent and his amazing assessments fully supported the coaches at our sons gym to help build a safe recovery plan. The sessions with Richard and Sanford were fun, engaging and they took great care to help improve full mobility and strength. At week 7 post op our son was doing skills we thought would have taken 4mths to achieve, by week 10 he was back to full impact training, even our hospital follow up with the senior elbow consultant was blown away by the physio support we’d had and the rapid recovery. If it wasn’t for Chews we 100% would not be back training this quickly and not have had the reassurances it was safe to do so…..we’ve definitely found a physio for life. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts Team Chews. From Mel & JJ x x
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Dave Stuart
Dave Stuart
I have had a chronic back condition to varying degrees for many years which more recently has forced me to have weeks off work at a time. I was recommended Chews Health by a colleague having tried other physios in the past. However, I always felt that something was missing from the plan. My back muscles would on occasion go into spasm, or my disk to impinge on my nerve, affecting my mobility and effectively setting me back to square one. I came to Chews health a bit wary and was considering surgery due to how much my back was affecting my quality of life and mental health. It has not been a straight forward recovery, but i have made significant progress through having a thorough history taken, my ongoing concerns listened to, and being provided with a clear explanation of not only the exercise plan but additionally explaining why my body was responding in varying ways. This has educated about my condition and provided me with the tools to self manage my condition more effectively should it deteriorate again.. It has not been plain sailing, but I have absolute faith in Jack and his team.
I had to attend Chews Health for help with pain in my elbow and they have been a fantastic help. I am now back to 100%.
The S
The S
I can thoroughly recommend Chews Health physio. Sessions from diagnosis to rehabilitation are stimulating as well as therapeutic. Jack’s holistic, insightful approach goes beyond fixing the initial problem - he builds the confidence and self-knowledge to help maintain fitness and avoid strains and niggling injuries in the future. His message that the body needs exposure to regular challenges has inspired my journey towards optimum health.
Sam Butler
Sam Butler
Excellent physiotherapy. After ACL and meniscus surgery I contacted Chews Health to find out about how they could help me feel more confident about returning to more intense sport after my injury. I felt listened to and we worked on a series of different of exercises that tested my knee. Very helpful and I now feel much more confident in my abilities.
feralie Bennett
feralie Bennett
I saw Richard Saxton for a chronic pain in my achillies. 2 visits, with massage and exercises: clear concise instruction, both written and verbal to do at home were realistic & adapted for my ability - I now no longer require pain relief & can walk the dogs pain free & even manage a few hills. A follow up call to review my progress was also appreciated. The clinic was clean & well equipped. Would highly recommend.
Philip Conroy
Philip Conroy
When I had severe back pain I was seen within 24 hours. The problem was resolved after 3 weeks of physiotherapy and exercises. I subsequently took up the annual gym membership package which includes regular reviews by the Physiotherapists. I feel this has benefitted me greatly as I had no previous experience of gyms and ensured I was using the equipment in the correct manner. At all times the staff have been very friendly and professional.
Maureen Morris
Maureen Morris
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Cecilia Wright
Cecilia Wright
I had been suffering from plantar fasciitis for some months and went Chews Health in the summer for shockwave treatment, after my podiatrist said she had heard good reports about it. Until then I had been resting, exercising it, icing it, using insoles etc., none of which had made much difference. I booked six treatments at the start (recommended) and by the time of the last treatment It was hardly noticeable, so much better! I’ve had two further treatments over the last month, just to be on the safe side, and I’m doing some exercises now to build up the strength in my calf and foot. Chews Health comes with heartfelt recommendations from me, they are friendly, very knowledgeable and best of all - they have fixed my sore foot!