The ankle is a very complex structure that is made up of two joints: the subtalar joint and the true ankle joint. The true ankle joint is composed of three bones: tibia which forms the inside, the medial, portion of the ankle, fibula which forms the lateral, or outside portion of the ankle, and the talus underneath. The true ankle joint is responsible for the up and down motion of the foot.
Beneath the true ankle joint is the second part of the ankle, the subtalar joint, which consists of the talus on top and the calcaneus (heel bone) on the bottom. The subtalar joint allows side-to-side motion of the foot.
All these different components of your ankle with the muscles, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels of your lower leg work together to handle the stress your ankle endures every day while walking, running, or jumping.
How is ankle pain diagnosed?
A physiotherapist may ask you a number of different questions to assist in their diagnosis. These include:
- Where exactly is the pain located?
- Is the pain in one or both ankles?
- Do you get pins and needles in your foot?
- It the pain dull or sharp?
- Is it painful only on walking or at resting times too?
- What makes the pain worse and what makes it feel better?
- Do you wear orthotics in your shoes?
- Have you had any knee, hip, or back issues?
- How does it affect your day to day life?
- How far can you walk before it hurts?
- Does your ankle give way at all when you walk?
Theses questions together with a physical examination will aid your physiotherapist in diagnosing your ankle pain and determining a treatment plan for you. If the pain does not subside within a few weeks, they may refer you for an X-ray or MRI scan to assist their diagnosis and treatment strategy.
Possible causes of ankle pain:
- Fracture of the tibia or fibula
- Stress fracture
- Sprained ankle
- Muscular strain e.g. rupture of the tendocalcaneous
- Shin splints
- Achilles tendinitis
- Osteochondritis dissecans of the talus
- Rheumatoid arthritis
How to treat ankle pain?
Suggestions for treatment include:
- Heat therapy
- Ice therapy
- Pain medication
- Rest and activity modification
- Ankle brace for support and stability
- Steroid injections
- Orthotics/ insoles
How we can help your ankle pain
We will do whatever we can to get you on the fastest route to recovery. Some of the treatment methods we use include:
- Strengthening exercises
- Myofascial trigger point release
- Cross-friction massage
- Stretching and range of movement exercises
- Functional exercises