Ankle Pain

This can develop after an injury to the ankle joint, overuse of the ankle joint or arthritis and infection in the ankle joint.

This can develop after an injury to the ankle joint, overuse of the ankle joint or arthritis and infection in the ankle joint.

The ankle is a complex weight-bearing joint that allows for walking, running and jumping. It is composed of many parts including bones, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. Ankle pain can develop after an injury to any of the structures in the ankle joint, overuse of the ankle joint, arthritis in the ankle joint or infection in the ankle joint.

  • The structure and functions of the ankle make it prone to injury or pain.
  • A common ankle injury is an ankle sprain, which is an injury to the ligaments in the ankle. A ligament is a short band of tough tissue that connects two bones. They help hold a joint together and keep it stable.
  • An ankle sprain happens when the ankle is twisted, causing "stretching" or tears of the ligaments. Ligament injuries can result in bruising, swelling and difficulty putting weight on the ankle.

If you injure or have pain in your ankle, it is important you treat it with some basic first aid. This can help improve your symptoms and protect your ankle from additional damage. The common treatment for an ankle injury is known as "PRICE," which stands for Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

  • Protect your ankle from further injury by supporting it with an ankle brace. Crutches or a cane can help decrease the weight placed on the ankle as it heals.
  • Rest your ankle. Minor ankle pain should only require a day or two of rest.
  • Ice your ankle three or four times a day. Do not use ice longer than 15 minutes at a time and do not apply ice directly to your skin. People with diabetes or problems with their nerves or circulation should not use ice without a doctor's recommendation.
  • Compression using a stretchable bandage can help decrease swelling. When you wrap the bandage around your ankle, make sure it is not too tight and does not decrease the circulation. You also need to remove the bandage when you sleep.
  • Elevate your ankle above your heart. This will help decrease the swelling.

Your healthcare provider may recommend over-the-counter medications to help with your pain. These may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, or other medications that do not have anti-inflammatory effects, such as acetaminophen. These medications can interact with other medications, so you should ask your healthcare provider which one is right for you.

Contact your healthcare provider if you have ankle pain/injury that is severe or is not responding to basic first aid at home. Be prepared to discuss the details of any injury, your symptoms and how long you have had them.

  • Bring a copy of your medical history (past illnesses, surgeries, and hospitalizations).
  • Make a list of your medications (including over-the-counter).
  • Write down any questions, symptoms or concerns you want to talk about.
  • If your healthcare provider prescribes a medication for you, ask for a generic version. If your doctor thinks that a generic version is not right for you, ask for a medication on the lowest available tier of your Prescription Drug List (PDL).

Here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider.

  • Do I need to see a specialist?
  • What are some of the complications of an ankle injury? Am I at high risk for complications?
  • What treatment, if any, are you recommending? What options are available?
  • If medication is recommended, how long will I need to take it? What are the possible side effects?
  • What tests are you recommending? What is the reason for those tests? Will the test results change my treatment plan?
  • How long will it take my symptoms to improve?
  • What are my follow-up plans and what symptoms should I report before my next appointment?
  • How can I prevent future ankle pain?


Also known as:

Hurt Ankle
Ankle Strain
Ankle Pain
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