Why am I experiencing ankle pain when walking?

Ankle pain is a common complaint for people of all ages. Various factors can cause it, and it can strike at any time. However, many individuals notice their ankle pain when walking. It’s important to learn how to prevent and treat ankle pain to avoid serious injuries that limit your mobility. If you’d like to speak with a podiatrist about your ankle pain, schedule an appointment with Arizona Foot Doctors.

Why is my ankle hurting?

Ankle pain is one of the most common injuries that people experience. In fact, one study estimated that there are about two million cases of ankle injuries each year, so if you’re experiencing ankle pain, you’re far from alone. However, if you’re over the age of 65, play sports, carry extra weight, or are obese, you are more at risk of encountering ankle pain. Ankle pain most commonly flares up when walking and when shifting weight to the ankle. At times, the pain may be severe enough that it impairs the ability to walk or stand. Here are some common causes of ankle pain:

  • Ankle sprain
  • Bone fracture
  • Ligament tear
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Improper footwear

What can cause ankle pain without injury?

Certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, are known to cause pain in the ankle without injury. There are, however, other reasons you could be experiencing sudden ankle pain without injury:

When to seek treatment for your ankle pain

The Mayo Clinic suggests seeking immediate medical attention if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms or side effects from ankle pain: you have severe swelling or pain; have an open wound; suspect an infection; experience redness, warmth, and tenderness around the affected area; have a fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit; or are unable to put weight on your affected ankle.

Diagnosis for ankle pain when walking

A doctor or podiatrist can diagnose your ankle pain if you’re experiencing any symptoms. First, a physician will record your history; hear your concerns; examine your ankle; and look for swelling, pain, or bruising. They may order an imaging test such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI scan. These tests will show images of your bone and surrounding tissues and may better reveal any damage. If your doctor believes you have an infection causing your sudden ankle pain, you may also need a biopsy. A biopsy removes a tissue sample and sends it to a lab to identify bacteria.

At-home treatment options for sudden ankle pain

Here are some of the many at-home treatment options for sudden ankle pain you might try at home to relieve discomfort:

  • RICE: One of the most common approaches is the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). To help reduce ankle pain, make sure to rest and ice your ankle for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day. Don’t put any weight on it, and try a compression bandage to help reduce swelling. It’s also helpful to elevate your leg at or above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
  • Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Anti-inflammatory medications—such as aspirin (Bayer, etc.), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.), and naproxen sodium (Aleve)—can help reduce pain. Before you take any of these, speak with your doctor about allergies and to see if NSAIDs interfere with another medication you’re taking or may aggravate any health conditions you have.
  • Supportive footwear: Make sure your shoes support your feet and ankles. Avoid wearing flip-flops and sandals or walking barefoot. It’s vital to wear proper shoes when you’re active, whether you’re hitting the gym or playing sports.

How will my doctor treat my ankle pain?

Ultimately, some symptoms may not go away unless you seek treatment from a medical professional. After your doctor or podiatrist diagnoses the problem, they may suggest a treatment plan that includes one or more of these approaches:

  • Braces and splints: Ankle braces and splints may stabilize your ankle and relieve pain in the process. Your provider will recommend the type of brace or splint that will work best with your lifestyle.
  • Joint aspiration procedure: Your provider will insert a needle into the joint and remove excess fluid during this procedure. This can also relieve swelling and pain.
  • Medications: Several prescription medications can reduce inflammation and the severity of your ankle pain.
  • Orthotic inserts: You can purchase orthotic inserts from a store or get custom orthotics from your doctor. Orthotics are inserts that fit into your shoes and add support and stabilization to your feet and ankles.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help you strengthen your ankle. Your physical therapist will customize your treatment plan with exercises and stretches to respond to your specific issues.
  • Steroid injections: Your doctor may use a needle to inject anti-inflammatory medication, sometimes called cortisone shots, into your joint to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Surgery. Ankle surgery can repair torn ligaments or tendons, relieve arthritis, or fix flat feet. Ankle joint replacement surgery is another option that can restore ankle functionality and relieve pain.

Schedule an appointment with Arizona Foot Doctors for relief from ankle pain when walking

Don’t walk through your ankle pain. Book an appointment online with Arizona Foot Doctors to find relief. With over 30 years of experience, we prioritize our patients’ health and make sure they’re comfortable and well-cared for during their visit. We take a conservative approach to all podiatric issues with our patients’ interests at heart. Find the relief you’re looking for at our Scottsdale, AZ clinic.