There are many causes for ankle pain. It can be caused by biomechanical abnormalities, diseases that cause ankle instability or accidental injury. In Singapore, about 85% of ankle injuries are caused by ankle sprains.
Chronic conditions that cause the pain come in various forms. It can be the result of unresolved fracture, Peroneal Tendon injuries, Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD), gout, rheumatoid arthritis, Tarsal tunnel syndrome (nerve compression), infection and poor structural alignment such as flat foot.
Ankle pain can be identified by symptoms such as swelling, stiffness and redness in the affected area. Pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp burning pain that occurs during weight bearing activities such as standing or walking.
Since there can be numerous causes for ankle pain, it is crucial for ankle pain sufferers to seek consultation from a healthcare professional. An ankle specialist, such as a podiatrist, will be able to give you a thorough foot assessment using diagnostic equipment such as musculoskeletal diagnostic ultrasound to determine the source of your ankle pain. Most ankle conditions can be cured using non-invasive treatment plans offered by podiatry. If surgery is required, your podiatrist will refer you to a trusted foot and ankle doctor for surgical solutions.
Some potential conditions associated with ankle pain are as follows:
- Achilles tendon rupture
- Peroneal tendon injuries
- Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome (nerve compression)
Ankle doctors in Singapore recommend immediate treatment of ankle pain as it can lead to irreversible deformities and disability that affects your daily life.
If neglected, ankle sprains can result in long-term deformity of the foot and ankle. To prevent this, see a podiatrist if you experience multiple ankle sprains or instability and weakness of the ankle.
Frequently Ask Questions
An ankle sprain is an injury of the ligaments around the ankle due to excessive rolling or twisting. When this occurs, the ligaments are stretched beyond their normal range of motion and in severe cases, may result in the tearing of the ligament. Ankle sprains are the most common ankle injury in Singapore.
While ankle sprains are usually caused by a single event such as a fall, landing awkwardly after a jump, or having someone step or land on your foot, there are often underlying causes such as a previous ankle injury, poor footwear choices or a lack of flexibility or strength in the ankle. Previous ankle injuries are a major culprit as they weaken your ankle, greatly increasing the incidence of such injuries. To avoid this from occurring, consult a doctor or podiatrist to see what treatment options are available for you.
As ankle sprains are frequently accompanied by a noticeable twisting or turning of the ankle, they are usually quite noticeable. Symptoms can include
- Pain, particularly when weight-bearing
- Soreness and/or tenderness
- Restricted range of motion
- Popping sensation or sound at the time of injury
If the pain is consistent and persists, or if the intensity greatly increases when weight bearing, the ankle may have been fractured rather than sprained. You should always consult a podiatrist or lower limb specialist to ensure that there is no lasting damage.
While ankle injuries can heal on their own, they often heal incorrectly or in a manner that encourages future injury. Moreover, the underlying causes are often unaddressed, leading to a higher incidence of future injury. A severe ankle sprain may take several months for a full recovery. Left ignored, complications such as chronic ankle instability or even ankle arthritis may occur.
Depending on the severity and type of injury, treatment for ankle sprains can range from first applying R.I.C.E treatment to the initial injury to using crutches or splints to using electromagnetic stimulation to help facilitate recovery. In Singapore, doctors often prescribe cold compresses to reduce pain and oral medication with anti-inflammatory or analgesic/pain-relieving purposes may also be prescribed.
For both mild and severe injuries, physical therapy may be prescribed for rehabilitation purposes. Surgical intervention is rare and is typically only done if there is significant bone deterioration or if conservative methods have failed to stabilise the ankle joint after an extended period of treatment.
Surgery is rarely required for ankle sprains as the ligaments of the ankle can remodel themselves. However, you should seek treatment from a foot doctor or podiatrist to avoid worsening the injury, speed up recovery, and prevent the ankle from remodeling to a form that encourages future injury.
Bio:Dr. Michael Lai received his doctorate from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine in 1999. Since then, he has worked in public and private health practices in the United States, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Today, he serves as East Coast Podiatry's Principal Podiatrist and specialises in complex cases of the lower limb including severe ankle and knee conditions and injuries, paediatric foot disorders and diabetic wound management.