Causes of Ankle Pain (and When to See a Doctor)

Ankle pain and swelling often indicate the presence of a foot or ankle problem that needs to be addressed. Left untreated, foot and ankle issues can lead to more serious conditions and further restrict your mobility. Consulting with an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist can help alleviate pain and discomfort. It can also ensure the continuation of the active lifestyle you enjoy!

EmergeOrtho–Triangle Region’s board-certified foot and ankle orthopedic physicians are leading experts in diagnosing and treating a diverse range of foot and ankle injuries, conditions, and disorders. Do not remain in pain when you have local, sophisticated, and unparalleled subspecialty practice at your disposal!

Five Common Causes of Ankle Pain and Swelling 

Ankle conditions are more common than you might think! 

For as many people who undergo traumatic ankle injuries, there are still more who experience ankle pain and swelling without trauma. When ankle pain and swelling occurs without an obvious reason, it is important to seek the expertise of an orthopedic specialist. 

As leaders in subspeciality orthopedics, the EmergeOrtho–Triangle Region Foot and Ankle Team routinely address a number of ankle problems. 

Our specialists are unparalleled experts with the proficiency to skillfully diagnose and treat your ankle injury or condition. Our goal is to help you Emerge Stronger, Healthier, Better. Many patients are able to safely return to the activities they enjoy after receiving treatment. 

Take a look at five foot and ankle injuries, conditions, and disorders treated by fellowship-trained EmergeOrtho–Triangle Region Foot and Ankle Physicians:

  • Achilles Tendinitis
    The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in your body, connecting the heel bone to the calf muscles. Intensive exercise, abrupt movements, overuse, and foot structure problems (such as flat feet) can trigger the development of Achilles tendinitis. In addition to ankle pain and swelling, Achilles tendinitis can produce symptoms of tenderness and pain that worsens with activity. Your orthopedic physician will likely address Achilles tendinitis with non-surgical treatment approaches. 

    To avoid Achilles tendinitis, it is important for athletes (especially runners) to warm up before exercise, wear the correct type of shoes, and use correct posture (running technique) while engaged in sporting activities. 

  • A doctor evaluates a digital X-ray of an injured ankle on an electronic tablet. Torn or Ruptured Achilles
    Unlike Achilles tendinitis, where the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed, a torn or ruptured Achilles tendon may make mobility very difficult. When an Achilles rupture occurs, patients often hear an audible popping sound. Additional symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness, and restricted mobility of the ankle. A ruptured Achilles tendon may even require surgical intervention to heal properly.
  • Ankle Arthritis 
    Did you know that upwards of two million Americans have ankle arthritis? Although there are multiple types of arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and posttraumatic arthritis most commonly affect the ankle. Patients with ankle arthritis can experience stiffness, pain, swelling, and limited mobility. There are several conservative treatment methods available to help reduce symptoms associated with ankle arthritis which include physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication.  Surgical options for ankle arthritis also exist when non-surgical options no longer help. 
  • Ankle Sprain
    Ankle sprains may be the result of a sports-related injury, however, an awkward twist of the ankle or misstep can cause a sprain. Ankle sprains are diagnosed in degrees: first, second, and third degree. All three degrees of sprains can produce severe ankle pain and swelling, but can often be treated conservatively; however, chronic sprains and ankle instability can develop not infrequently and can be a source of significant functional limitations.  Many “sprains” are actually only part of the picture and can be part of a more complicated and even subtle injury pattern, so try not to fall into the common trap of thinking, “It’s just a sprain!”
  • Broken Ankle
    A fractured ankle can be extremely painful. Sports-related impact, unexpected falls, and overuse, are some of the common reasons for a broken ankle. Depending on the severity of the break will determine the appropriate treatment. Some fractures can heal through conservative methods, while more significant injuries may require surgical intervention. 

When Should You Consult an Expert

If you suspect you may have any of the previously mentioned ankle conditions, it is important to seek medical attention. Left untreated, symptoms may worsen and lead to additional ankle problems. 

Additional symptoms to indicate it is time to schedule a foot and ankle orthopedic consultation, include:

  • Pain in any part of the foot or ankle
  • Ankle pain when walking
  • Tenderness and swelling in the foot and/or ankle
  • Pain that lasts for more than two weeks
  • Stiffness that limits your range of motion
  • Pain that worsens with prolonged periods of rest
  • Pain even when weight is not placed on your foot or ankle
  • Foot deformities

No matter what is causing ankle pain, swelling, and other uncomfortable symptoms, EmergeOrtho–Triangle Region is here to help you Emerge Stronger. Healthier. Better. Our Foot and Ankle Team work together to create personalized, safe, and effective treatment plans. 

Request a visit with one of our EmergeOrtho–Triangle Region doctors now. Or, call us any time at (919) 220-5255 for more information.