Do you frequently experience an aching soreness in your ankle, even though you don't remember having injured the area? It's important to figure out what's causing your ailment so that you and your doctor can devise the proper treatment plan. Here's a look at four common causes of aching ankles and how they are treated.
Does the pain and stiffness seem to be worst at night? Is it accompanied by redness and stiffness? You might be suffering from gout, a form of arthritis that involves a buildup of uric acid in the joints. Many patients develop symptoms in their big toe first, and then the symptoms move into the other joints of their foot. Gout pain usually comes in waves. It might be really bad for a few nights and then barely noticeable at all for a while before it comes back again. You might also experience symptoms in your hands and elbows.
If you suspect you might have gout, it is important to see your doctor, since it can lead to permanent cartilage damage if left untreated. If your doctor confirms that you do have gout, he or she will work with you to get the symptoms under control. This will involve following a diet low in meat and seafood, keeping your weight under control, and taking medications to enhance your body's processing of uric acid so it does not keep building up in your joints.
If the aching seems to be worst after you have not moved your ankle in a while, it's possible that you're developing osteoarthritis in your ankle. Osteoarthritis, which is a wearing away of cartilage in the joints, is most common in those who are overweight and in those who have put a lot of wear and tear on their joints over a lifetime. If you are an older adult who has spent a lot of time standing on hard surfaces or playing sports that involve a lot of running, arthritis in the ankles is likely.
While there is no cure for arthritis, it is manageable. Your doctor or podiatrist can show you exercises to keep your ankles loose, alleviating your aches and pains. Topical pain relief treatments can also help alleviate your soreness, and over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can help on your worst days.
Are you a very active person who regularly runs, jumps, or participates in some other type of high-impact activity? It is possible that you have developed a stress fracture in your ankle. This is a crack in the bone that develops after it is put under a lot of stress over a long period of time. You probably never felt a single instance in which the bone snapped or broke. Rather, the crack developed gradually.
Other symptoms of a stress fracture include swelling in the ankle and soreness when you press on a certain spot. Your podiatrist can take x-rays if you think you may have a stress fracture. If diagnosed, you'll have to spend a few weeks resting and staying off your feet. Then, you should work with a physical therapist to identify the issues that led to your stress fracture and change up your training routine to ensure you don't develop another one.
Is the aching isolated to the tendon that runs along the back of the ankle? Chances are you have a touch of Achilles tendinitis, a condition that involves swelling of the Achilles tendon. Minor cases of this condition are often ignored since they just lead to minor soreness and swelling. Achilles tendinitis is most common in athletes, but it can also occur in non-athletes who spend a lot of time on their feet and wear shoes that put too much strain on their tendons.
If you suspect you have Achilles tendinitis, take some time off from training (if you're an athlete). Ice the area several times per day. If the symptoms don't subside within a week or two, see your podiatrist.
If you are a non-athlete with Achilles pain, it's important to see a podiatrist. They can identify what is causing your pain and help you select shoes that will prevent if from becoming worse. You may need orthotic inserts to adjust the way your feet move and reduce strain on your tendon.
Aching ankles are not a problem you should ignore. Talk to a podiatrist from an establishment like Advanced Foot & Ankle Center of Palatine if you're still not sure what's causing your discomfort or how to treat it.