Ankle pain is a common problem experienced by many people while walking on a treadmill or on an inclined surface. Causes of the pain may vary from a small ankle injury to a type of arthritis. Here’s more on the reasons behind ankle pain when walking and the treatment measures for the same.
Ankle is a hinged joint connecting the foot with the leg, and is held in place by strong ligaments, tendons, and muscles. It enables the foot to move in two main directions: away from the body (plantar flexion) and towards the body (dorsiflexion). Given that the ankle is vital for human mobility, any issue with the joint or tendons, ligaments, and muscles surrounding the ankle lead to pain. Sometimes, swelling and bruising are also observed around the ankle which can make it extremely difficult to exert pressure on the ankle or even stand on that leg. In some cases, pain may be experienced around the foot, lower leg, and knees. At such times, it is necessary to determine the exact cause of pain in order to begin treatment or administer pain relief. Here is a list of the probable causes that might lead to pain while walking or moving the ankle.
A sprain is caused when ligaments in the ankle get stretched. This can happen when you accidentally twist your foot inward or outward. It can happen while doing simple activities that are as easy as getting up from a chair or stepping on an irregular surface. Wearing the wrong kind of shoes while running, exercising, etc., can also lead to a sprain.
The difference between a fracture and a sprain is that you sprain your ankle when you injure your ligament whereas a fracture occurs when you injure the bone.
» Achilles Tendinitis
Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. When this tendon becomes stiff or sore, it is called Achilles tendinitis. It is caused due to overuse of the foot and is more common in athletes.
Gout is a painful inflammation of the big toe and foot caused by excess production of uric acid in the body which gets deposited in the form of crystals or salts in the joints and blood. This deposition causes pain, generally around the big toe and the ankle.
Pseudogout is a kind of arthritis characterized by sudden and intense painful swelling in one or more joints, triggered by deposition of crystals in the joint lining. Being similar to gout, it is generally observed in elderly people and commonly affects the large joints of our extremities.
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in which the cushioning between the bones (i.e. cartilage) wears away. As osteoarthritis worsens, the cartilage disappears and causes the bones to rub against each other. This results in loosening and weakening of the muscles and ligaments.
» Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis which is often associated with psoriasis of the skin. It is a chronic skin condition characterized by dry red patches covered with scales all over the body. The arthritis may be mild and involve only a few joints, especially at the ends of the fingers or toes, causing joint swelling and skin soreness.
» Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis causes long-term inflammation of the joints and the surrounding tissues. It is an autoimmune disease, i.e. the body’s immune system confuses healthy tissues for foreign bodies and attacks itself.
» Septic Arthritis
Septic arthritis is an inflammation of a joint due to bacterial invasion which grows when the bacteria get transported from a source of infection through the bloodstream to a joint, or when the joint is directly infected by traumatic penetration or surgical procedures. It causes symptoms like joint swelling, intense joint pain, and low-grade fever.
Treatment for ankle pain mainly involves simple home care and remedies. The following are a few of them:
- Rest for a few days, don’t move the affected area and avoid putting weight on it.
- Massage the affected area with warm olive oil.
- If the ankle is unstable, support it by crutches or a cane while standing or walking to keep the weight off the ankle.
- If there is swelling in the foot, keep it raised above the chest level when resting. Place two pillows under your leg every time you lie down.
- Applying ACE bandages or ice compression over the affected area for 10 – 15 minutes every day will also help relieve the pain and swelling.
If the above remedies do not help relieve the pain in a few days, it is best to see a doctor. Make sure you seek help if:
- You have a history of arthritis.
- The affected area is red and/or swollen.
- You experience numbness in the foot.
- It is difficult for you to exert pressure on the leg.
- The foot is cold and/or has changed its color.
Depending on the severity of the pain, it may take anywhere between a few weeks to over a month for your ankle to heal completely. Make sure you do not start any exercise or other physical activity unless your doctor says it is safe.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.