Ankle Pain When Walking: Any Foot Swelling? Causes, Treatment

Ankle Pain When Walking Any Swelling

Question: What causes outer or inner ankle pain when walking?

Pain in your lower extremities after walking or running may cause you to panic about serious health problems.

Your ankle joint is just located in your foot area and carries your entire body weight. After walking or running, a sudden sharp ankle pain may seem a serious scare with a fracture or dislocation in mind.

The truth is, if you always feel ankle pain after walking, its possible there is an underlying problem.

In mild cases, minor trauma on your ankle, leg or foot may cause ankle pain while walking. This pain will only last for a while.

More so, if you’ve had a long walk or exercise without a prior warm-up, you may have pain in your muscles and joints.

Having said that, ankle pain when walking may be due to severe health problems. Serious causes of ankle pain during walking are an

  • Ankle sprain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Inflammation of tendons in your ankle
  • Direct trauma to your ankle
  • Dislocation
  • Fracture of the ankle bones
  • Gout
  • Bursitis

ankle joint

Anatomically, your ankle is situated at the junction of your lower leg and the foot. The joint is formed by bones of the leg (tibia and fibula) and that talus. On both sides of the ankle joint is the medial and lateral malleolus that stabilizes the ankle. (see picture above)

Aside from bones, the ankle is also supported by ligaments. Most importantly is the medial and lateral ligaments of your ankle joint.

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The medial ligament (deltoid) stabilizes the inner aspect of your ankle joint and attaches the tibia to the calcaneum, navicular, and talus. The lateral ligament also connects the fibular bone to the talus and calcaneus bones.

Any injury, weakness, inflammation or irritation of these ligaments will cause pain in your ankle. Pain could be present at rest, when walking, or after walking; And depending on the cause, you may have swelling of the affected ankle too.

This article explains the common causes of ankle pain when walking, treatment options and treatment options available.

 

What causes inner or outer ankle pain when walking?

If you think your knees hurt for no reason, you may be incorrect. In some instances, you may develop pain in your legs years after an incident. It is best to see your doctor to be sure its nothing serious. Here are common causes of severe ankle pain

1.  Lack of prior warm up

Yes, a fast walk, running, jogging and exercise may cause pain in your ankle, especially if there was no previous warm up. Before a workout, a warm-up help eases pressure on your joints and frees your muscles.

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2.  You’ve developed an ankle sprain

Like already mentioned, different ligaments support your ankle. A ligament functions by connecting your bones ensuring stability at your ankles.

An ankle sprain happens when your ligament, especially the lateral ligament is inflamed, irritated, or completely torn. If this happens, you will experience a sudden sharp ankle pain, swelling of the affected ankle, redness, and difficulting to bear weight on the affected ankle.

What causes an ankle sprain?

Ankle sprain happens if you mistakingly twist your ankles. This can cause inflammation of your ankle ligaments. Other causes are

  1. Running or walking on a bumpy surface
  2. A road traffic accident and landing on your ankles
  3. You recently engaged in playing football, basketball or lawn tennis. This sports may cause twisting of your ankle joint.

What can I do for an ankle sprain?

A left or right ankle sprain when walking can be treated without surgery. However, treatment depends on the severity of the injury. They are

Grade 1. You will have mild pain and swelling

Grade 2. You will experience moderate swelling and pain in your ankles

Grade 3. Severe pain and swelling that occurs when the ankle ligaments are completely torn.

Whether pain is mild, moderate or severe, it is advised you see your doctor. This is because poor healing may result in the instability of your joints and osteoarthritis.

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Your doctor will request an x-ray for visualization of your ankle bones. Also, if there is a fracture or dislocation, it will be visible. Other test carried out are an MRI and ultrasound.

How is an ankle sprain treated?

If you have a pain in your ankles, you most likely will not need surgery. Most ankle sprains are treated with conservative techniques that you can try at home before seeing your doctor.

The RICE protocol is a simple way to help ankle sprain.

R means you need to relax your ankles and avoid moving around. Standing, walking and running on an injured ankle and foot may worsen your pain.

I mean ice; get an ice pack on your leg to assist with the swelling

C means applying some form of compressure on your ankle through a bandage. Crutches and short leg cast are tools to help prevent weight on your affected ankles.

E mean leg elevation. You can use pillows to elevate your ankle above your heart. This help to reduce ankle swelling.

Other treatment options are painkillers like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – Ibuprofen and Naproxen.

2.  Osteoarthritis of the ankle

If you experience a right or left ankle pain while walking, it could be due to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, commonly called wear and tear arthritis, is a common cause of joint pain and stiffness.

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Anatomically, your joint is made up of bones, ligaments, and cartilages. The cartilage is strong elastic tissues usually found at the end of long bones. If these cartilages are damaged or get worn out, it causes your bones to rub against each other resulting in pain.

Who are at risk of developing ankle osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is common in obese people, and this is due to extra-weight and pressure on the joint cartilages. Other risk factors are older age, female sex, previous ankle injury, or deformity or your knee, legs, ankles or foot.

Aside ankle pain, what other symptoms will I experience?

If you have arthritis, you will notice pain at your ankle joints during movement. Also, you may experience ankle pain after walking or running. Other symptoms are ankle stiffness, swelling, tenderness, and reduced flexibility of your ankle joint.

How is osteoarthritis treated?

If you have pain in your ankle, stiffness, and swelling, it possible you may have osteoarthritis. Talk to your doctor. Painkillers, exercise, losing weight, and yoga have been shown to improve symptoms.

3.  Tendinitis

4.  Dislocation

5.  Fracture of ankle bones

6.  Gout

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

What causes ankle pain when walking no swelling?

If you have ankle pain when walking without swelling of the affected leg or ankle, its possible you have a mild sprain, osteoarthritis, or a sciatic nerve injury. Other symptoms of arthritis are joint stiffness, rigidity, decreased ability to walk freely.

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What causes ankle pain when walking and swelling?

Ankle tenderness during movements may be due to tendinitis, ankle sprain, gout, dislocation or a fracture. See your doctor for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

My ankle hurt for no reason, why?

It is normal that a sudden onset ankle pain will make you worried. This is especially so if you’ve not had a recent foot injury.

Yes, it is possible to have pain in your foot without a recent injury, and it could be due to arthritis. Osteoarthritis can happen many years after an injury. See your doctor.

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