Ankles are complex joints composed of many different bones, tendons and ligaments. They facilitate movement and support the weight of the body. But they can also be prone to injury and pain.
Swelling, bruising and pain are common symptoms of ankle injuries or conditions. Luckily, these problems often go away with noninvasive treatment from a chiropractor.
See a Doctor
While you may be able to get some pain relief with an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or aspirin, you should still see an ankle doctor Georgia to diagnose and treat the root cause of your ankle pain. Your doctor will likely suggest the classic RICE regimen (rest, ice, compression and elevation) to reduce swelling and ease pain.
Loss of feeling in the injured ankle and foot (paresthesia) should also be a serious red flag that requires medical attention. This is often a sign of serious nerve damage and can indicate an untreated fracture, a blood clot in the leg or a chronic autoimmune condition such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
Repeated ankle sprains and other injuries can weaken ligaments around the ankle joint, making it more susceptible to injury. This can lead to deformities and poor long-term results. It is also common for people with ankle problems to compensate by walking differently, which can lead to issues in other joints like the knee and hip.
Although most ankle sprains heal on their own with some rest and at-home care, it’s important to know when the pain has gone too far. Excessive bruising and swelling or inability to place pressure on the ankle are signs that you should seek medical attention.
Injuries to the knee, foot or ankle occur at a surprising rate. These injuries often result from sporting activities or overuse of the affected body part, such as exercise or weight training. The most common injuries are sprains, which occur when the ankle is twisted or turned in an unnatural way.
Many sprains are treated using the RICE method: rest, ice, compression and elevation. The goal is to reduce inflammation and speed healing. This treatment has proven successful for most minor injuries, including ankle sprains. Adding regular movement to your daily routine can also help prevent the pain and stiffness from returning. Your physiotherapist can guide you on when it’s safe to move and how much activity is appropriate for your condition. A steroid injection may also be helpful in reducing pain and inflammation.
The first step for treating ankle pain is to apply ice. Ice causes the blood vessels to constrict and limit blood flow. This helps reduce swelling by pushing excess fluid out of the area and keeping new fluid from returning, which keeps the pain level low and allows the injured tissue to heal.
After a few days of rest, icing, and over-the-counter pain medication, most people can resume daily activities with mild to moderate discomfort. However, if the pain is severe or you are unable to bear weight on your ankle, see your provider immediately.
Your provider will examine your foot and ankle, check for swelling and bruising, and perform tests to determine the cause of the pain. They may order an X-ray, CT or MRI scan to create images of the bones and soft tissues of your ankle. If they do not discover the source of the pain, they may refer you to a specialist in sports medicine or orthopedic surgery. Once the pain has stopped and the injury has healed, your provider will instruct you in exercises to restore strength, balance and stability.
Ankle pain can be caused by a variety of injuries and conditions. Some are mild and get better with at-home treatment, while others may need medical attention.
Your provider will check your ankle for bruising, swelling and tenderness. They may also take a sample of tissue for lab testing to find out what’s causing your ankle pain.
Most ankle pain is caused by sprains. These happen when ligaments stretch or tear. Mild sprains can heal with rest, ice and over-the-counter pain medicine. Severe sprains require more aggressive treatment, including immobilization with a brace or cast.
You should call your doctor right away if you have severe pain or swelling, or your injury gets worse over time. You should also contact your doctor if the affected area feels numb or tingling, which may indicate nerve damage. If you can’t put weight on your foot, consider using crutches until your injury heals. Ice helps reduce swelling by reducing blood flow to the affected area and slowing down the movement of fluids that cause inflammation. You can use an ice pack, bag of frozen peas or a specialty product such as a cryo-sleeve that fits different joints and provides cold therapy without touching your skin.
Keeping your ankle elevated reduces swelling and allows you to rest the injured area. You can try using a compression bandage or wrap to support the ankle. Be careful not to wrap it too tight as this may restrict blood flow and slow healing.
Your provider can also examine your foot and ankle for pain, bruising and swelling. They may order an imaging test, such as X-rays or a CT or MRI scan to check for broken bones or soft tissue damage.
Other causes of ankle pain include arthritis (either osteoarthritis or septic arthritis), flatfoot, gout and other infections. Gout is a type of arthritis where calcium deposits build up in joints, causing swelling and pain. Flatfoot occurs when the arch of the foot is too flat and increases the risk of ankle injuries.
Physical therapy can help improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles that support the ankle. Your provider can create a custom physical therapy (PT) program for you that includes exercises and stretches that are specific to your needs. Other treatment options include cortisone injections to decrease inflammation and steroid medications to relieve pain. Surgery is a last option for severe cases of ankle pain.