Why Does My Ankle Hurt?


You don’t recall recently injuring your ankle and yet, it aches after you’ve been on your feet for a while. At times it appears swollen and feels stiff or tender if you touch it. You also often have a feeling that your ankle is going to give way, particularly when you are walking on uneven surfaces. When a patient comes to us at Goldsmith Podiatry with these symptoms, we do some investigating. 

First, one of our podiatrists, Dr. Howard Goldsmith or Dr. Rosanna Troia, will examine your ankle, looking for areas of tenderness and swelling. The foot doctor may also want to get an x-ray or other imaging study of the ankle. Finally, the podiatrist will get your medical history and ask about previous ankle injuries. 

The most common cause of chronic ankle pain and instability is an old injury that was not fully rehabilitated. Often when a patient suffers a bad ankle sprain, the foot doctor will recommend physical therapy. Once the ankle stops hurting, patients may decide to discontinue the therapy, but this is a mistake. In addition to retraining the ankle ligaments, it is necessary to strengthen the muscles surrounding the ankle to help provide the support needed to keep it from twisting. When treatment is stopped before the muscles are strengthened, it’s highly likely that the patient will sprain the ankle again in the future. With each sprain the ligaments get more stretched, making it easier to sprain again. 

There are other possible sources of chronic ankle pain. These include:

  • Arthritis in the ankle joint
  • Inflammation of the tendon or joint lining
  • Nerve damage in the ankle area
  • Fracture in one of the ankle joint bones

Relieving the Pain

Once the foot doctor has tracked down the source of your ankle pain, a treatment plan can be created. It may include one or more of the following:

  • Bracing the ankle or using ankle supports to help stabilize the ankle and prevent it from turning
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the ankle and surrounding muscles and also to help improve balance and range of motion
  • Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and inflammation during treatment

Surgery is usually a last resort if the ankle does not respond to conservative measures. It’s best to get treatment sooner rather than later if you are experiencing ankle pain or weakness. Contact our New York City office for an appointment by calling: (212) 877-1002.