Guest post by Rosanne Ho
Our feet and ankles are the base of our body, and are a crucial aspect to the foundation of everything we do. It’s helpful to have strong, resilient ankles to prevent ankle injuries or foot pain as well as prevent dysfunctions up the chain (hip, knee, foot). But what happens when you do experience ankle pain? Let’s dive into a common region our physical therapists treat!
What is Ankle Pain? What are Common Causes?
Ankle pain can often occur from an injury, such as a sprain, but can also be caused by ankle weakness, stiffness, arthritis, gout, tendonitis, fracture, nerve compression (tarsal tunnel syndrome), infection and poor structural alignment of the leg or foot. Ankle pain can be associated with swelling, stiffness, redness and warmth in the involved area or loss of function with walking, running, squatting, or jumping. Pain can range from dull and aching to stiff or sore to sharp and stabbing depending on the cause.
Relief Methods for Ankle Pain
Ankle pain can become chronic especially when not treated appropriately. Immediate home treatment after an injury should be done to help ease pain and promote healing. For many years, health professionals have been recommending the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method, but this is unfortunately outdated.
While a little bit of rest is necessary, the problem with RICE is that people usually tend to overstretch the meaning of “rest”. This tendency can lead to decreased muscle strength and flexibility, which in turn, can delay your return to normal function and activity. Another problem is that RICE hasn’t been proven to work that effectively. A study from the Journal of Athletic Training found a lack of solid evidence that RICE produces better outcomes. In fact, some experts even believe that applying ice right after an injury impedes the normal healing process.
Currently, rehabilitation specialists are recommending the POLICE method, which includes:
How to Prevent an Ankle Injury
While you may not always be able to prevent an injury, there are a number of ways to prevent pain. Some simple ways include:
Seeing a doctor of physical therapy and taking early action against your pain or injury will help you prevent a worsening situation, will help to strengthen your muscles and support your feet and ankles, and will keep the foundation of your body working well together. Certain programs your physical therapist creates for you can also help prevent future pain and other injuries in a different part of your body. If you’re looking for more tips or ideas to help prevent ankle pain, check out our Instagram Page or search #paceptankle on Instagram.
When To See A Doctor?
While practicing home relief methods can help improve your healing, it’s preferred to see a medical professional rather than trying to self-diagnose when the pain in your ankles becomes more intense or lasts longer than a few days. If there’s a change in circulation and temperature, increased swelling, tenderness to touch, signs of infection, or you cannot put normal weight through your foot, go see a professional and get the correct care for your body! When in doubt, call your doc!
Our Doctors of Physical Therapy make it easy to hop on a quick phone call, discuss your symptoms and get guidance on where to start for your healing.
Have a question? Request a Call!
van den Bekerom MP, Struijs PA, Blankevoort L, et al. What Is the Evidence for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation Therapy in the Treatment of Ankle Sprains in Adults? https://meridian.allenpress.com/jat/article/47/4/435/111307/What-Is-the-Evidence-for-Rest-Ice-Compression-and
Sears, J. (2020, April 28). The P.O.L.I.C.E. Principle Emergency Treatment for Acute Injuries. https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-police-principle-for-acute-sprains-and-strains-2696549
Richmond, S., Nettel-Aguirre, A., Doyle-Baker, P., Macpherson, A., Emery, C. (2016, July 20). Examining Measures of Weight as Risk Factors for Sport-Related Injury in Adolescents. The Journal of Sports Medicine https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jsm/2016/7316947/
Meet Your Therapist
Jessica has been in Austin, TX for the past four years. She grew up in Idaho and attended PT school at Idaho State University. She completed an Orthopaedic Residency and became a Board Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist in 2016.