Ankle & Achilles Pain
Ankle injuries can be acute (sudden onset) such as ankle sprains and fractures, or gradual onset through overuse. Here we explain acute ankle injuries, lateral ankle pain (outside of the ankle), medial ankle pain (inside of the ankle), anterior ankle pain (front of the ankle) and achilles pain at the back of the ankle. We cover emergency first aid in the form of cold therapy and compression, when to seek medical advice as well as rehabilitation exercises.
The most common cause of ankle pain is a sprained ankle. But there are a number of other less common ankle injuries as well as important conditions and ankle injuries which should not be missed! Immediate first aid (RICE) rest, ice, compression, and elevation are important for all ankle injuries, especially sprains. If the injury is severe or a fracture is suspected always seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Pain at the back of the ankle is usually related to the achilles tendon and comes on gradually over time. A sudden onset or acute achilles tendon injury may be a partial or even complete rupture of the achilles tendon which needs urgent medical assistance. Thompson's squeeze test can be done to rule out a complete achilles tendon rupture. More commonly achilles tendonitis or similar injuries tend to occur over time.
Medial ankle pain refers to pain on the inside of the ankle. This is more likely to be of gradual onset than an acute, sudden onset injury. Here we explain the most common causes of pain on the inside of the ankle, some less common medial ankle injuries and important conditions that should not be missed. Tibialis posterior syndrome is probably one of the more common gradual onset injuries along with stress fractures and nerve impingements.
Lateral ankle pain is pain on the outside of the ankle which usually develops over time as opposed to an acute ankle injury such as a sprained ankle which happens suddenly. Chronic ankle injuries can occur following an acute ankle injury which has failed to heal properly or was not treated correctly in the beginning. The most common causes of gradual onset pain on the outside of the ankle are peroneal tendinopathy (tendinitis) and sinus tarsi syndrome.
Pain at the front of the ankle which has come on gradually rather than from a sudden twisting or trauma is usually due to impingement or tibialis anterior tendinopathy (tendinitis). Anterior ankle impingement occurs when a bony growth at the front of the ankle bone where it meets the shin bone restricts normal ankle range of motion. Tendonitis of the large tibialis anterior muscle on the outside of the shin can occur through over use.