A sudden, inadvertent twist to the ankle can trigger pain, not only to the ankle but also the rest of the leg. The pain is experienced when there is a severe injury to the ankle or if the tendons have been torn from their base. The ankle is an important joint in the body, which attaches the foot to the leg.
Made up of an intricate network of ligaments, muscles, bones and tendons, the ankle supports the entire weight of the body, making it susceptible to injury and pain. At times the pain may be so intense that moving the ankle becomes quite difficult. A failure to address the problem and provide relief can transform into chronic ankle pain, which may take a longer while to heal.
Causes of Chronic Ankle Pain
Ankle pain, preceded by a sprain, is a common sports injury, affecting athletes and other sportspersons. People suffering from arthritis and other joint disorders may also experience chronic ankle pain. If you have pain in the ankle but no swelling, then it means that there is no inflammation in the muscles in spite the pain. This type of injury heals faster than the injury where there is a tear in the ligaments or tendons of the foot.
- As mentioned earlier, an accidental twist of the ankle may dislodge the bone or overstretch the muscles causing intense pain. If the muscles are weak, then they may also tear as a result of excess stretching. This can aggravate the pain and discomfort caused due to this condition.
- Degenerative diseases of the joint like arthritis can also be a responsible factor for chronic ankle pain. Since the joints are weak and are not fully supported by the muscles, they can get more prone to sprains and strains. It can also lead to swelling and stiffness in the ankles, difficulty in walking, etc.
- Rupture in the tendon as a result of an injury, a condition known as Achilles tendon bursitis is also one of the reasons for unbearable pain. This can arise due to continuous trauma to the retrocalcaneal bursa, which is a jelly like sac, located between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone. This sac reduces the friction between these two parts. The trauma may cause the structure to become inflamed and painful.
- A disorder called tarsal tunnel syndrome is also a causative factor for persistent ankle pain. This condition occurs when tibial nerve suffers compression as a result of pressure or trauma. It also exhibits other symptoms like burning sensation in the foot, heel and ankles, tingling sensation and tenderness in the affected region.
Treating Chronic Ankle Pain
Since ankle pain can be quite distressing, it is essential to get it treated immediately to relieve the pain and also to prevent damage to the nerves, which may be irreversible in some cases.
- One of the best treatment options for a sprained ankle, recommended even by doctors is the R.I.C.E method. The acronym for RICE is Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Following this therapy relieves the pain and brings down the swelling considerably.
- Applying cold or hot compresses on the affected region also help in stemming the pain. This can be applied at regular intervals.
- Massaging the area with warm olive oil improves blood circulation which in turn speeds the recovery process. It is also advisable to restrict movement till the injury heals completely.
- In case none of the remedial measures prove to be effective, then it is necessary to consult a doctor, who may prescribe pain killers and antihistamines to reduce the pain and inflammation.
- If the tear is severe, then surgery may be needed to reattach the torn ligaments and muscles. The foot is then wrapped in a bandage and the doctor may also advice restriction of mobility till the foot heals.
It is essential to consult an orthopedic in case chronic ankle pain does not resolve itself, even after treatment. The doctor may evaluate the exact condition and administer medication to further relieve the pain and discomfort. Take care!