Ankle Pain

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aman Priya Khanna
Written by Hexahealth Care Team, last updated on 12 December 2023
Ankle Pain

Any pain or distress in your ankle is referred to as ankle pain. A physical issue, for instance, an injury or sprain, or a medical condition like rheumatoid arthritis, can cause severe pain. 

It is a very common condition and is prevalent in the individuals who are: 

  1. Aged above 65 years
  2. Obese
  3. Involved in sports/ gym training

Anatomy and Physiology of Ankle 

The ankle is a joint that is composed of three bones:

  1. Tibia: It is the shin bone.
  2. Fibula: It is the thinner bone located adjacent to the shin bone.
  3. Talus: It is the foot bone located right above the heel bone.

The ankle joint allows the foot to move up and down. The subtalar joint is located below the ankle joint and allows the foot to move side to side. The true ankle and subtalar joints are surrounded by ligaments (tough, movable tissue) that connect the bones of the leg to those of the foot.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Ankle Pain?

The common signs and symptoms observed during ankle pain are:

  1. Unable to walk properly
  2. Unable to bear any pressure on the ankle
  3. Pain after standing for too long
  4. Stiffness 
  5. Swelling
  6. Tenderness

What are the Causes of Ankle Pain?

Ankle pain is a very common symptom caused by many other health conditions such as:

  1. Rheumatoid arthritis/ Osteoarthritis: Pain and stiffness in the ankle can lead to severe pain 
  2. Sprained ankle: It is a very common cause of ankle pain.
  3. Tendonitis is a condition referred to as irritated, inflamed tendons are soft-tissue injuries. 
  4. Gout: It is a type of arthritis resulting from the accumulation of uric acid in the body. Gout in the ankle can cause severe pain.
  5. Infection: Various infections such as cellulitis might cause swelling and ankle pain
  6. Flat foot: A very low or no arc in the foot can cause severe ankle pain.
  7. Blocked blood vessels
  8. Septic arthritis
  9. Stress fractures
  10. Bursitis is an inflamed condition of the fluid-filled pads that act as a cushion at the joints.
  11. Broken foot

When To Consult A Doctor?

Ankle pain can cause severe discomfort, and therefore you should consult a doctor immediately if the self-care doesn't help and you experience the following:

  1. Unable to walk
  2. Swollen ankle
  3. Unbearable pain 

How to Prevent Ankle Pain?

You can prevent an ankle pain by:

  1. Maintaining a healthy weight
  2. Strengthening your muscles
  3. Have a good warm-up before exercising
  4. Rest whenever you feel even a slight pain in your ankles

What Investigations Can be Done?

For diagnosing ankle pain, your physician will initially conduct a physical examination. The physician will look for the location of the swelling and tenderness to determine the cause of the condition. The physician will also move your foot in various directions during the physical examination. You might also be asked to walk to examine any posture or movement changes.

Later, based on the results of the physical examination, the physician might recommend a few tests such as:

  1. X-Rays: The majority of the fractures can be visualized on X-ray; however, tiny fissures might not get diagnosed via X-Ray until the break begins healing.
  2. Bone scan: This test can diagnose conditions that X-Rays, such as tiny fissures, cannot visualize. In this test, a minute quantity of radioactive material is injected into the veins. The material has a greater affinity for damaged bones, and therefore, damaged areas are highlighted by bright spots during the diagnosis.
  3. CT scan: In this test, X-Rays are taken from various angles and are combined to form a cross-sectional image of internal conditions. This test aids the physician in identifying the precise treatment for a broken ankle.
  4. MRI: This test employs radio waves and an effective magnetic field to form detailed images of the ligaments that hold up the ankle. This test identifies ligaments and bones that cannot be seen on X-Rays.
  5. Stress test: This test determines the need for surgery. In this test, the physician exerts some pressure on the ankle and takes an X-Ray. If the joints open up, it indicates the need for surgery.

How To Proceed?

Treatment of ankle pain can be surgical or non-surgical based on the injury's cause, severity, and location. However, initially, the physician may prescribe an over-the-counter pain killer for instant relief and will also advise you the following:

  1. Rest properly
  2. Apply ice for 20 minutes  
  3. Compress with an elastic bandage
  4. Keep your feet elevated
  5. Wear supportive footwear

Treatment options include:

  1. Walking boot, cast, or splint: In case of stress fracture (tiny fissure), your doctor might recommend non-surgical treatment options such as a brace or cast to support your ankle while it heals.
  2. Crutches: These aid you in walking without exerting any pressure on the ankle. 
  3. Physical therapy: A specialized physical therapy will aid you in enhancing your flexibility and strengthening muscles that support the ankle
  4. Steroid injections: Cortisone injections are injected by your physician to reduce inflammation and pain.
  5. Surgery is employed when no other treatment option works or the case is very severe. Ankle joint replacement surgery can aid in reducing pain.


Ankle pain can be a sign of a variety of injuries and illnesses. Walking can be difficult or impossible due to swelling, stiffness, and pain. Most ankle injuries improve with simple home remedies. Ankle discomfort usually does not necessitate surgery. Consult your provider if the pain is severe, you have a lot of swelling, or it doesn't disappear after a few days. Several non-invasive treatments can assist you in regaining your footing.

Hexahealth is the first step towards proper treatment and care. We help you connect with the top doctors and surgeons from the most trusted hospitals at affordable prices to make your healing and recovery process as relaxing as possible. We offer you the greatest and most suitable healthcare and surgical guide for the proper treatment from our nationwide network. You are just a phone call away from the correct healthcare service you require.

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Updated on : 12 December 2023


Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More


About Authors

HexaHealth Care Team

HexaHealth Care Team brings you medical content covering many important conditions, procedures falling under different medical specialities. The content published is thoroughly reviewed by our panel of qualified doctors for its accuracy and relevance.

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