Ankle pain causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment

Each person at least once in his life experienced pain in the ankle joint. The cause of pain can be traumatic injury, an inflammatory or degenerative disease. Timely treatment started will relieve pain and restore the damaged joint.


The ankle joint is one of the difficult joints. Three bones and three groups of ligaments participate in the mobile connection. A block-like joint connects the foot to the lower leg, providing movement in several planes.

Pain in the ankle joint can occur for various reasons. To determine the exact diagnosis, a hardware examination will be required. Symptoms will indicate the nature of the pathology. Therapeutic measures depend on the etiology of the pathology, which leads to the occurrence of pain.

Every day, a large load falls on the ankle joint when walking, running, jumping or just standing still. Pain syndrome violates the usual course of life, limiting motor function.

What factors can lead to soreness:

  • injuries of the ankle joint and foot: bruises, dislocations, sprains, fractures, rupture of ligaments; occurs with falls, direct bumps or awkward foot movements;
  • inflammatory pathologies that develop in joint bags and synovial capsules: arthritis, bursitis, synovitis;
  • degenerative processes of cartilage and bone tissue: deforming arthrosis;
  • inflammation or mechanical damage to the Achilles tendon;
  • flat feet – during foot walking with the arches lowered, it transfers part of the load when moving to the ankle joint;
  • rheumatism;
  • autoimmune reactions: lupus erythematosus.

In addition to pathological conditions, discomfort in the ankle joint appears in people who in everyday life do not pay due attention to their health. The risk group includes:

  • improper nutrition with the use of fatty, flour, salted products, smoked meats and sausages, semi-finished products;
  • obesity – with extra pounds, the joint is loaded several times stronger than in people with normal weight;
  • labor activities associated with long standing;
  • women during the period of bearing a child, whose joints experience a tremendous load in the last weeks of pregnancy due to rapidly increasing weight;
  • reaction to an insect bite;
  • wearing shoes of low-quality materials that do not meet orthopedic standards: ballet shoes, sneakers, high-heeled shoes.


Pain in the ankle joint can vary in intensity and frequency, accompanied by signs of inflammation or destruction of the joint. Injuries are manifested by swelling and hematomas.

With a bruise, a sharp pain appears, the leg in the ankle swells. If the injury appeared after a strong blow, go fall from a great height, extensive subcutaneous hemorrhage gradually manifests itself.

Rupture of the ligaments of the ankle joint is accompanied by severe pain, extensive swelling, hematoma, tenderness on palpation of the damaged area. An ankle fracture is similar in symptoms to a rupture of connective tissue. A distinctive feature is pain when pressing on the bone 6 cm above the site of damage.

Soreness in the ankle joint after an intense load in athletes is not pathological. The symptom disappears on its own in a couple of days. Untrained people also suffer from discomfort due to a weak ligamentous apparatus.

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Inflammatory processes are accompanied by significant swelling, in which the skin above the ankle joint glistens and glistens. The skin above the ankle becomes hot and turns red, and over time it can acquire a crimson hue. The general condition in most cases does not suffer.

Dystrophy of joint tissues causes pain during tension, swelling is not observed, there is a limitation of motor and spring function. In the last stages of the pathology, joint deformation is clearly visible.


Discomfort with independent movement delivers a lot of unpleasant symptoms. You can get rid of it only by determining the cause of the symptom. Diagnosis is carried out in a hospital setting.

When injured, a person goes to the trauma center. In addition to examination and palpation, the traumatologist appoints an X-ray examination. In the picture you can see the possible violations of the bone or joint.

MRI and computed tomography are performed for arthritis and arthrosis. A puncture from an articular or synovial bag for the purpose of studying the pathogen is used for inflammatory pathologies that are accompanied by an accumulation of exudate.


The correct treatment of not only the symptom, but also the background pathology, will help to forget about discomfort in the ankle. The complex of therapeutic measures includes medication and physiotherapy. Only a doctor can prescribe drugs.


  1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Ketaprofen, Indomethacin, Diclofenac) in injections or tablets to relieve pain and inflammation. For external use, ointments or gels Dolobene, Nise, Voltaren are used.
  2. With severe inflammation, steroid hormones are prescribed – Hydrocortisone, Prednisolone. Means are used for injection or for intraarticular exposure.
  3. In the presence of an allergenic factor – Suprastin, Tavegil in tablets or injections, depending on the severity of the condition.
  4. Chondroprotectors (Teraflex, Honda, Don) stop the destruction of cartilage, slowly filling the joint with “building material” for slow recovery.


Phonophoresis with analgesics (Novocain, Lidocaine) effectively anesthetizes. Electrophoresis with corticosteroids (Diprospan, Desamethasone) allows you to achieve a quick effect on the affected area.

Treatment with magnetotherapy devices does not give an instant result. Pulse electromagnetic current has a cumulative effect, which is achieved by the last session. It can be carried out both in a hospital and at home.

Trauma Therapy

Mechanical damage causing soreness in the ankle can be a serious danger that will lead to disability. To exclude complicated conditions, the victim must be examined at a trauma center.

Depending on the damage, the doctor prescribes treatment:

  • in the first two days, apply a cold compress (heating pad with cold water, chilled products, the Snezhok hypothermic package), the use of warming compresses is allowed on the third day;
  • applying a tight bandage from an elastic bandage, wearing an orthopedic bandage of medium or hard degree, a plaster cast in case of a fracture;
  • painkillers (Nimesil, Baralgin, Ketanov);
  • orthopedic regimen with rest for a sore foot.
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After an acute period, rehabilitation and rehabilitation will require massage (to improve blood circulation and restore the possibility of full movement), physical therapy exercises under the supervision of an instructor.

Before you get to the doctor, the injured on the spot you need to provide help, on which the outcome of the pathology often depends.

First Aid Algorithm for Ankle Injuries:

  1. Inspect the leg, having previously assessed the nature of the injury. If there is no severe edema, unnatural deformation, pain of moderate intensity – you can tightly bandage the leg to create compression to reduce pain and reduce swelling. Severe pain, hypermobility of the joint, inverted foot can be a symptom of a complete rupture of the ligaments or fracture. In this case, the leg should remain completely at rest.
  2. Ice should be applied to the damaged joint, this can be done for no more than 10 minutes, after having wrapped a cold object in tissue.
  3. Give an analgesic (Baralgin, Analgin) to reduce pain.
  4. Take to a traumatologist for qualified medical care.


To prevent the appearance of soreness in the ankle simply by observing simple rules of prevention:

  • proper nutrition will help not to gain extra pounds and provide the body with the necessary chemical elements for life;
  • moderate motor activity will improve trophism and blood circulation in the ankle joint;
  • the use of preventive orthoses to prevent injuries and heavy loads;
  • to buy comfortable and high-quality shoes of their natural materials for everyday wear;
  • pain in the ankle joint is the reason for going to the orthopedist to draw up the correct treatment regimen.
Shishkevich Vladimir
Shishkevich Vladimir
Orthopedic doctor, traumatologist
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I have been treating joints for many years. I can say with confidence that the joints are always treatable, even in the very ripe old age.

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