Did You Know?
Ankle pain but no swelling may indicate that the tissues (muscles, ligaments) around the painful site are not torn or severely damaged.
Injury to the ankle joint causes pain and is often accompanied by swelling. Athletes, especially runners, are more prone to ankle problems. However, in some cases, although pain in the ankle is present, the affected joint does not show any symptoms of inflammation. This issue has been discussed below:
Ankle Pain in the Absence of Swelling
Though ankle pain is often associated with swelling of the surrounding tissues, there have been instances in which an ankle injury does not inflame the tissues. This form of injury is usually not a cause of worry, as it may not interfere with our day-to-day activities. In such cases, where in there is ankle pain without swelling, the stability of the joint may be slightly hampered. However, tearing of any ligament or muscle is unlikely, if swelling is not observed.
Painful ankle joint but no swelling has been linked to excessive strain resulting from activities such as walking or playing sports like basketball for prolonged periods of time. Muscle fatigue that is common after exertion is responsible for causing pain but not necessarily inflammation. Practicing a dance routine for hours without using any ankle brace can also strain the joint and cause pain but no swelling.
You may feel pain around the ankle joint after wearing ill-fitting shoes for a long time. Shoes that are too tight can make the ankle red and painful. Athletes give top priority to their training but tend to give little attention to the shoes they are wearing. One should not forget that buying comfortable, good fitting shoes is equally important for better performance and to keep ankle problems at bay. Women wearing high heels are also prone to ankle injuries that may also only cause pain but no swelling.
Ankle Sprain With No Swelling
Rolling the ankle in any direction, or any activity, such as running, that produces abnormal twists or bends in the ankle leads to ankle sprains. This usually occurs when people prefer to run on a surface that is not uniform. When the surface of the ground is uneven, the ankle is prone to such type of injuries. A person with an ankle sprain simply cannot walk properly, but the joint area may not show any signs of swelling. As a severe ankle sprain increases the risk of ligament tear, one cannot ignore this condition even though the joint area is not swollen. In this condition, the joint hurts and may cause extreme pain while performing normal activities. In case the pain is persistent, visiting the doctor is essential to prevent the injury from getting worse.
Swollen Ankle But No Pain
As aforementioned, ankle pain but no swelling is often associated with minor injuries that heal on their own without any medical intervention. However, the reverse, that is ankle joint showing signs of inflammation but causing no pain is suggesting an underlying medical condition. Persistent swelling around the ankle joints is pointing towards edema (water retention), a condition that is typically marked by accumulation of excess fluids. Ankle edema is common in people suffering from kidney disorders or heart problems such as congestive heart failure (CHF). Obese people leading a sedentary lifestyle may also show painless ankle swelling.
Taking adequate rest and staying away from activities that trigger ankle pain is the mainstay of the treatment. Resting to the injured ankle as possible will help to speed up healing and restore its normal movements within a short span of time. This is the best remedy for ankle rehabilitation. Generally, ankle pain but no swollen joint heals on its own, without any treatment. However, chronic pain needs to be addressed as early as possible to eliminate any further complications. On the other hand, ankle pain followed by swelling is common, and usually treated with application of ice to decrease the inflammation. In case the inflammation does not go away within a week, then NSAIDs such as ibuprofen may be prescribed. The doctor may also advise you to wear a brace to restrict ankle movement.
Taking adequate rest and use of pain-killers often works to resolve the issue. However, if that doesn't help and ankle pain continues to aggravate, undergoing an X-ray or an MRI scan of the ankle joint is recommended to identify the underlying cause.
The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a podiatrist.