Does Your Ankles Always Hurt? Here’s 6 Possible Reasons Why…
Millions of Americans suffer from chronic ankle pain. If left untreated, ankle problems can lead to more serious conditions over time. Let’s go over a few of the most common ankle conditions that can lead to feeling like your ankles always hurt.
First, it’s important to understand the ankle joint itself, which includes the top of the foot up to the lower part of the leg. As one of the primary joints used for walking, running and jumping and responsible for foot flexion and extension, the ankle joint undergoes a significant amount of force and pressure.
Chronic ankle pain is most often caused by previous injuries, arthritis, tendonitis, gout, tarsal tunnel syndrome, and synovitis.
- Previous injuries: A common cause of ankle pain is improper healing from a previous ankle injury due to lack of appropriate treatment. This can result in decreased mobility and strength as well as the development of scar tissue around the joint. Certain injuries that are left untreated can create latent hypermobility, aggravation of the joint due to hyperpronation, and excessive immobilization, which can result from not completing physical therapy.
- Arthritis: Almost half of adults age 60-70 have arthritis-related foot pain. The most common types of arthritis in the ankle are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis typically affects older individuals, in which onset is more gradual or is the result of a previously injured ankle. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, may affect uninjured joints and may be swollen and red. Both forms of arthritis are painful and can affect an individual long-term.
- Tendonitis: This condition is defined as inflammation of the tendons in the ankle. Failing to care for a sprain or other injury can create tendonitis. Typical symptoms include long-lasting ankle pain that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter pain medicine; swelling and tenderness along the outside of the ankle joint; and pain that travels down the ankle into the top and side of the foot.
- Gout: Notoriously painful, gout most often affects the big toe joint, but may cause ankle joint pain as well. This condition is the result of a uric acid build up in the joints, and symptoms are usually obvious, including sudden and severe pain, redness and swelling in the joint. Diet modifications and medications are the most effective methods of treatment.
- Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: Nerve compression in the ankle can occur from previous injuries. It can also be caused by certain disorders, such as arthritis and diabetes, and can also be impacted by the natural shape of the foot. Tarsal tunnel syndrome symptoms include burning pain in the sole of the foot, pain that worsens during standing or exercise, tingling and numbness near the bottom of the foot, pain at night, pins and needles sensations and decreased sensitivity.
- Synovitis: Synovitis refers to inflammation of the synovial membrane of the ankle and is caused by fluid collecting in the joint. This condition is usually characterized by pain when moving the ankle joint, followed by swelling.
Diagnosing chronic ankle pain and pinpointing the cause can sometimes be difficult. An injury sustained a decade ago that you hardly remember might be the culprit. The first step is examining the type of pain you’re experiencing as well as the exact location of the origin of pain. For example, pain in only one ankle could point to a previous injury, and if the pain is located laterally on the ankle, it could be tendonitis. Widespread pain and inflammation in both ankles could point to rheumatoid arthritis. Both require very different courses of treatment. Working closely with a podiatrist can ensure that you get a proper diagnosis, and therefore, proper treatment.
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