Ankle Pain | Ankle Injuries

Arthritis, nerve damage and twisting or other injury to your ankle can all cause significant ankle pain or an ankle injury. A weak or injured ankle can lead to more accidents and injuries. At MaineHealth, your primary care provider or specialist can evaluate your ankle pain. Your provider will not only treat your ankle problems but help develop a prevention plan to stop future ankle injuries.

What are ankle injuries?

Ankle pain can result from a direct injury to any of the ankle bones, ligaments or tendons.  It can also be caused by a medical condition, such as arthritis, gout, or an infection.

  • Ankle injuries include sprains and fractures. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments.

  • A fracture is a break in a bone.

  • You can also injure other parts of the ankle such as tendons, which join muscles to bone, and cartilage, which cushions your joints.

Causes of ankle pain and injury

Ankle pain and ankle injuries can be caused by direct injuries or medical conditions. Ankle sprains and fractures are common sports injuries.

Ankle injuries an be caused by:

  • Tripping or falling

  • Landing improperly after a jump

  • Walking or running on uneven surfaces

  • Sudden impact

  • Twisting or rotating the ankle

  • “Rolling” the ankle

Some other causes of ankle pain include:

  • Arthritis

  • Gout

  • Nerve damage

  • Blocked blood vessels

  • Infection in the joint

  • Damage or swelling of tendons or cartilage

  • Infection in the ankle joint

Symptoms of ankle pain and injuries can occur suddenly or gradually

Some symptoms include:

  • Ankle swelling
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Instability
  • Burning pain
  • Inability to bear weight on the affected ankle
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness

Ankle pain and injury may be diagnosed with X-rays

To diagnose ankle pain or an ankle injury, a doctor will examine the ankle visually and by moving the ankle to evaluate pain and swelling. An X-ray may be ordered to determine if any bones are broken. An MRI may be ordered to show more detail about the injury, such as evidence of a stress fracture. If there is suspicion for a medical cause of ankle pain further testing may be required such as sampling some fluid from the ankle joint for testing.

Treatment depends on the injury type and severity

  • Immobilization using a cast or splint
  • Oral or injected anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain
  • Physical therapy for range of motion, strength, and balance
  • A brace to provide support during activities
  • Surgery to repair the tendon or tendons and sometimes to repair the supporting structures of the foot

Where to Find Care

Find Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Care at the following MaineHealth locations.

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