Ankle Pain: Common Causes

Did you know that your ankle is a synovial hinge joint made up of three bones? It is actually much more complex than you might guess, with a total of 28 bones and 25 joints in the foot and ankle, creating a very stable and powerful platform that allows your ankle to move only slightly from side to side, yet still flex up and down in order to stand, walk, jump and run. Your ankle also has a complex array of connective and soft tissues, nerves, and blood vessels, all combined in one neat little compartment. Because of the massive stress and weight that the ankle regularly carries, it is vulnerable to injury and other conditions. Below are some common causes of ankle pain.

Common Causes of Ankle Pain

Ankle pain can be caused by a variety of conditions or injuries. Some of the most common include:

Achilles tendonitis – This is often caused by overuse. The Achilles tendon is a strong band of connective tissue that attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone of the foot. Achilles tendons can rupture, especially if they are already inflamed and irritated.

Sprained ankle – Sometimes caused by a roll or twisting that stretches or even tears the strong connective tissues that anchor the bones and muscles. If you think of a rubber band being pulled too far, you can imagine what happens when the ligaments are forced beyond their normal stable points. Some sprains are mild, others require surgical intervention or other medical care, such as bracing.

Broken ankle or foot – Bones of the ankle tend to be very strong, however they are not immune to fractures from repeated stress or a sudden (acute) injury. You can break an ankle simply by stepping off a curb the wrong way, making a sudden change of direction while running during a sports event, or being involved in an accident of some kind. The bones in the feet can become fractured in many different ways, from awkward landings to dropping heavy objects on them. The treatment required will depend on the exact location of the break and the severity.

Gout – The pain of gout can be so severe that it becomes debilitating. Gout is a complex form of arthritis that causes swelling, pain, redness and tenderness in the affected joint, caused by the formation of tiny uric acid crystals within the joint. Patients with gout can be treated with medications and dietary changes to reduce the amount of uric acid in the body.

Other common causes of ankle pain include:  plantar fasciitis (an inflammation of the connective tissues of the foot), arthritis (rheumatoid, psoriatic, or osteoarthritis), pseudogout, stress fractures, bursitis, and septic arthritis. Depending on the underlying cause and severity, an ankle condition may require surgery or even a total ankle replacement.

If you or a loved one has ankle pain, or you would like to know more about our advanced ankle care, or to schedule an appointment at any of our offices, please call us in East Tucson at (520) 784-6200Northwest Tucson at (520) 382-8200, or Oro Valley at (520) 544-9700, or request an appointment online.