What Can Cause Ankle Pain Without Injury?
Get this: up to 15% of American adults experience ankle pain regularly. But you might be wondering: what happens if you are experiencing ankle pain for no reason?
If you are having sudden ankle pain but don't know why, you need to read this guide. Read on to find out what can cause ankle pain without injury now!
What is Ankle Pain, Anyway?
In scientific terms, ankle pain usually refers to any type of discomfort or pain that starts in your ankles. This can usually either be caused by a medical condition like arthritis or an actual, physical sprain.
As a matter of fact, most ankle pain is commonly attributed to an ankle sprain. Believe it or not, ankle sprain's account for up to 85% of all ankle injuries. This happens when the tissues that connect your bones, or your ligaments, get overstressed or tear.
Most sprains to your ankle are defined as lateral sprains. These can rip or stretch your ligaments when your foot rolls and your ankle twists toward the floor.
As you may already know, a sprained ankle often results in bruises and swells that last for anywhere between one week to two weeks. However, particularly nasty ankle sprains may even take a couple of months to heal fully.
But what happens if you never rolled your ankle but are experiencing excruciating ankle pain anyway? Learn more about what causes ankle pain without injury below!
What Can Cause Ankle Pain Without Injury?
As we mentioned above, the most common cause of pain in your ankle is a severe sprain. This is usually caused when your ankle twists or rolls toward the ground so that the ligaments of your ankle are torn. Unfortunately, rolling your ankle can also result in damage to the tendons or cartilage of your ankle as well.
But that's not all. You might be surprised to find out that some types of ankle pain can be caused for seemingly no reason. In fact, some conditions that include ankle as a symptom include things like:
- Arthritis and osteoarthritis
- Never injury or damage like sciatica
- Blockages in your blood vessels
- Infections inside of your joints
For instance, let's start with gout.
Gout happens when your body experiences a buildup of uric acid. This toxic uric acid concentration is usually a by-product of the body's breakdown of older cells. Sadly, this process can deposit several crystals in your joints, which can result in sharp pain.
On the other hand, pseudogout occurs when there are too many calcium deposits built up in your joints. Nonetheless, both conditions include common symptoms such as redness, swelling, and pain.
Another condition that can cause ankle pain without an injury is arthritis.
This is typically described as inflammation in your joints. While several kinds of arthritis can cause ankle pain, osteoarthritis is the most common culprit.
That's because osteoarthritis is often caused by "wear and tear" on your joints. So the older that you are, the more likely that you will develop osteoarthritis in the future.
Besides this, septic arthritis can be caused by a fungal or bacterial infection in your body. This can also result in ankle pain, especially if one of your ankles are infected.
What Else Can Cause Ankle Pain?
In addition to what we mentioned above, lupus can be another cause of ankle pain that results in your body without an injury. For starters, lupus is an autoimmune disease that includes the body attacking healthy tissue inside of it.
This can negatively impact your ankle health or potentially lead to a buildup of fluids in the joints, which is connected with kidney problems. Although there isn't a cure yet, your foot doctor can talk to you about changes to your medications, diet, exercise that could be helpful in the long run.
Besides this, flat feet can also be blamed for your mysterious ankle pain. For instance, most people have an arch that lies between their heels and the balls of their feet. If not, you may be suffering from flatfeet, which occurs when there is no arch in your foot. Although this is typically painless, your ankles can potentially swell when they aren't in alignment with your knees.
Have you ever heard of bursitis before?
If not, here's a complete breakdown. Basically, you have two sacs of fluid in your body, which are called a bursa. These are located in your ankle and function as a cushion between your bones and your tendons.
FYI - your bursa sacs can get inflamed from everything from:
- Wearing the wrong shoes
- Excessive workouts after time off
Sound familiar? It's no surprise that ankle stiffness and swelling, as well as tenderness to the touch, might be results of bursitis in your body.
And then, there is scleroderma, which is a variety of conditions where your skin and connective tissues become thicker. When this occurs near your ankle, it is common to feel pain and stiffness. In some cases, you might even have issues with your digestive system, heart, and your kidneys too.
How Do I Treat Ankle Pain?
At this point, you might be curious about how to care for ankle pain at home. Allow us to enlighten you. First of all, you can't go wrong with the tried-and-true method of RICE:
- Resting your ankle
- Icing your ankle
- Compressing your ankle
- Elevating your ankle
To rest, be sure not to put too much weight on your ankle at any time. Also, use a cane or crutches if you have to move or walk. Do your best to move as gingerly as you can as well.
For icing your ankle, take up to 20 minutes to put a huge bag of ice on your ankle per session. Make sure that you take around an hour and a half between "icing sessions" too.
Ice your ankle up to five times a day for three days in a row for best results. This should help with everything from numbness to pain relief.
As for compressing your ankle, wrap it up tightly in a bandage first. However, don't overwrap it until your toes turn blue or your ankle goes numb. That means that you've definitely gone too far in the compression department.
Finally, there is elevating your ankle. This involves keeping your injured ankle above your heart level using a simple support structure like a stack of pillows.
When your swelling and pain start to die down, do a small exercise like rotating your ankles in circles. To do so, rotate your injured ankle in both directions equally, and make sure to stop if you begin to experience more pain.
You can even flex your ankle upwards and downwards using your hands. This will not only restore your range of motion, but it can also speed up your recovery process and reduce swelling at the same time.
What Are Other Ankle Pain Treatments?
Along with the traditional RICE method, you can also supplement your recovery method of choice with safe-to-use drugs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
But what should you do if your ankle pain is caused by arthritis?
Here's the thing: you can't heal from your ankle pain injury as easily as other people can. On the bright side, there are several things that you can do to manage your daily pain levels. It might be helpful to:
- Reduce inflammation, pain, and swelling with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Focus on getting modern exercise from a fitness program to stay physically active
- Put healthier eating habits into daily practice for yourself and your family
- Maintain a healthy range of motion in your body with stretches
- Make sure that you are at a healthy weight to avoid strain on your ankles
If over-the-counter treatments and lifestyle modifications aren't making the pain go away, this might be your big opportunity to look at other options of treatment.
For example, sometimes an ankle brace, a foot brace, or an orthopedic shoe insert is the best nonsurgical method to realign joints and keep discomfort and pain at bay. Orthopedic shoe inserts usually come in different degrees of stiffness and different sizes to support various parts of your foot. Plus, they can provide potential pain relief by redistributing your body weight too.
Similarly speaking, ankle braces work almost the same as orthopedic shoe inserts. They also come in different levels and support and sizes. While some can be paired with a regular pair of shoes, others are a bit more obtrusive - covering both your ankle and your foot almost entirely.
Although several varieties may be available at your local pharmacy or drugstore, your best bet is to see your primary care physician for a proper fit.
When Should I See a Doctor?
If you're someone who experiences ankle pain for no clear reason on a regular basis, it's probably time to visit your doctor soon. That's because your doctor might be able to provide steroid injections that can help reduce your ankle inflammation and pain. Yes, you read that right.
For the uninitiated, these injections usually contain a treatment called "corticosteroid." This can reduce both the pain and swelling stiffness in your inflicted ankle area. Here's the best part: most of the time, it only takes a few minutes to receive an injection that will provide pain relief for several hours.
On top of being noninvasive, a corticosteroid injection is also nonsurgical, which means that you can rest and relax at home on the same day that you receive your procedure. Also, the long-term results should last you many months to come as well.
How can you possibly beat that?
The takeaway is this. Almost ankle injuries can be healed at home with a little bit of tender love and care. However, that doesn't mean that it's not important to notice when everyday TLC is no longer working.
This is true when you experience:
- Extreme swelling or bruising in your injured ankle area
- The inability to put weight or pressure your ankle without significant pain
If you are nodding yes and yes to the above symptoms, then you should phone your primary physician and schedule an appointment right away. Otherwise, seek medical attention if you haven't seen any improvement in your ankle pain after the first several days.
From surgery to special shoes and ankle braces, your doctor will be sure to recommend the right method of treatment for you!
Don't Let Your Ankle Pain Hold You Back
Still not sure what can cause ankle pain without injury?
If that's the case, then you've come to the right place. That's because when it comes to severe ankle pain for no reason, we are here to help you out. In a nutshell, the most common cause of ankle injuries is a severe sprain.
But sometimes, your ankle can cause you unnecessary pain out of the blue, which can be attributed to underlying health factors. For instance, some forms of gout, arthritis, or bursitis can be to blame for your irritating ankle pain problem.
Other than that, your ankle pain can be triggered by simple factors such as wearing the wrong shoes, overuse, or excessive workouts after time off. Whatever the cause is, seeing your primary physician for help may be the best way to ward away the pain in the long run.
Want to learn more about the many reasons for ankle pain without injury?
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