Ankle Pain

Ankle Injuries

Article by John Miller

Ankle Injury Information

Your ankle muscles and tendons dynamically control, move and protect your ankle joint. In simple terms, your muscles move your foot and stabilise your ankle joint to avoid you overstretching your ligaments. Unfortunately, when your muscles lose control or are not quick enough, your ligaments are not protected, resulting in overstretched ligaments (ankle sprain) or complete ligament rupture. Ouch, that hurts!

However, there are many other types of ankle injuries besides a sprained ankle, and we categorise them by the kind of tissue injured, e.g. bone (fracture), ligament (sprained ankle), muscle (strain or tear), or tendon (tendinopathy or tendonitis).

Ankle pain can arise from traumatic ankle ligament sprains or ankle fractures (broken bones). Plus, ankle pain can be more subtle in origin. Tendinopathies, degenerative arthritis and biomechanical disorders can develop ankle pain over time.

There are a lot of ankle injuries – not just sprained ankles. It is essential to accurately diagnose what is wrong with your ankle to ensure that both your short and long-term treatment achieves your goals as soon as possible.

When Should You Worry About Ankle Pain?

Some cases of foot and ankle pain require urgent attention.

Sudden Onset Ankle Pain

Traumatic injuries that occur at speed or involve a multi-direction component such as twisting may result in foot or ankle fractures or significant soft tissue injuries, e.g. syndesmosis or high ankle sprains.

The Ottawa Ankle Rules determine the need for X-rays in acute ankle injuries.

Ankle X-ray is only required if:

  • There is any pain in the malleolar zone; and,
  • Any one of the following:
    • Bone tenderness along the distal 6 cm of the posterior edge of the tibia or tip of the medial malleolus, or
    • Bone tenderness along the distal 6 cm of the posterior border of the fibula or end of the lateral malleolus, or
    • An inability to bear weight immediately and in the emergency department for four steps.

Chronic Ligament Instability

Chronic ligament instability in your foot and ankle can cause premature osteoarthritis and joint deformity. Some conditions can be safely rehabilitated without surgery, whereas other conditions, such as a Lisfranc injury, may require surgical repair.

Please consult your doctor or physiotherapist for specific foot or ankle injury advice.

Gradual Onset Pain That Fails to Improve

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures can be serious. While you may not have had a sudden traumatic injury, the ankle and foot are highly susceptible to stress fractures. Several bones in your foot can have their blood supply compromised by a stress fracture, leading to bone necrosis (death). These potentially life-changing conditions should seek an early assessment from your doctor or physiotherapist.

The good news is that most ankle and foot pain is not sinister and improves with physiotherapy and other non-surgical options.

Please ask your physiotherapist or doctor for specific advice.

Common Ankle Injuries

Ankle Sprains

FAQs

Ankle Fractures

Ankle Tendinopathies

Ankle Arthritis

Biomechanical Conditions

Muscle Injuries

Nerve-Related Ankle Pain

Children & Youth Conditions

Systemic Conditions that may cause Ankle Pain

Soft Tissue Inflammation

Other Useful Information

For specific advice regarding your ankle injury, please visit one of the particular ankle injury information pages on this website, or arrange a consultation with one of our ankle physiotherapists.

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Common Ankle Injuries

ankle pain

Sprained Ankles

The most common ankle injury is a sprained ankle, but ankle pain can have numerous sources.

Ankle Fractures

An ankle fracture occurs when there is a break in one or more of the bones. The most common ankle fractures are avulsion fractures of your distal fibula, which can be a side effect of an ankle sprain. All suspected fractures require medical investigation and professional management by your health professional to avoid long-term foot and ankle issues. If your healthcare professional suspects an ankle fracture, you will be referred for at least an X-ray and potentially an Orthopaedic Surgeon.

Ankle Tendinopathies

While muscle strains are more common in your legs, there are essential muscles that converge into tendons that wrap around your ankle to stabilise your ankle and foot to protect them from sprains and allow you to walk and run. These muscles and their tendon vitally provide you with a normal foot arch and avoid flat feet. Your muscles or tendons can become injured or inflamed as a result of overuse or trauma. The inflammation is called tendonitis. They can also tear, completely rupture, or sublux out of place. Medically tendon injuries are known as tendinopathies, and at the ankle may include:

Ankle Arthritis

Your ankle pain and dysfunction can lead to degenerative conditions such as ankle osteoarthritis. While arthritis usually is a chronic deterioration of your ankle joint, it is crucial to slow ankle arthritis progression. Would you please seek the professional advice of your ankle and foot health practitioner, e.g. physiotherapist or podiatrist?

Biomechanical Conditions

Biomechanical disorders may result in foot deformation, painful weight-bearing and potentially nerve compression. In simple terms, this is where your foot and ankle do not have normal bone alignment and motion contr. Here are a few possible conditions related to poor ankle biomechanics.

Muscle Injuries

Nerve-Related Ankle Pain

Children & Youth Conditions

Systemic Conditions That May Cause Ankle Pain

Soft Tissue Inflammation

Other Useful Information

Book Your Appointment Here!

Call Us or Book Online 24-hours

Book Your Appointment Here!

Call Us or Book Online 24-hours

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