Ankle tendonitis - causes, symptoms, and treatment explained
How to Relieve Ankle Pain
Ankle pain is caused by many different conditions including sprains, arthritis, gout, or nerve damage.The most common cause of ankle pain is a sprain.In many cases, ankle pain will heal on its own with home treatment.By following the RICE principle and trying medication and gentle movement, you can relieve pain in your ankle.
Follow the RICE principle.Ankle pain often goes away by using the RICE treatment.RICE—Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation—can relieve your pain and may prevent other issues.
- Use RICE for immediate self-care of ankle pain.
Rest your ankle and leg.Let your leg rest completely or do lower-impact activities. Immobility and light activities such as swimming may help relieve your ankle pain and promote healing.
- Switch to lower-impact sports if you do high-impact activities like running. Try an exercise bike or swimming to stay active while resting your leg. You can modify both activities to avoid using your hurt ankle.
- Consider giving your ankle a few days of complete rest.
- Use a cane or crutches if necessary.
- Move your ankle gently after a few days of full rest to help prevent stiffness.
Ice your ankle.Apply an ice pack to your ankle. This minimizes swelling and can help relieve pain.
- Put ice on your ankle for 20 minutes at a time three to five times a day.
- Use a commercial ice pack or make your own with a bag of frozen vegetables or fruit. You can also freeze a plastic foam cup of water and then gently massage your ankle with it.
- Placing your ankle in slush bath can also help. Make a slush bath by mixing ice and water in a bathtub. Soak your ankle for up to 20 minutes.
- Wait 90 minutes between icing sessions.
- Take the ice off of your leg if it gets too cold. Put a towel between the ice pack and your skin to help prevent frostbite.
Compress your ankle.Wrap your ankle with an elastic bandage to compress your ankle.This can reduce swelling, relieve pain, and preserve mobility in your ankle joint.
- Wrap your ankle beginning with the part farthest from your heart.
- Make sure you don’t wrap too tightly. If your toes turn blue or go numb, pain increases, or you see swelling below the wrapped area, loosen the wrap.
- Use compression you don’t see any more swelling.
Elevate your ankle.Raise your ankle above heart level.Elevation can reduce swelling and may also relieve your pain.
- Prop up your ankle with a stack of pillows or another structure that will support it.
- Keep your ankle up as much as you can.It’s important to keep it elevated at night if you can.
Taking Medication and Getting Treatment
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.If you are in a lot of pain or have swelling, consider over-the-counter pain medications, which can reduce pain and swelling.
- Use pain relievers such as aspirin (do not give aspirin to children), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Reduce swelling with NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium.
Try an analgesic.Analgesics are common medications used to relieve ankle pain from arthritis, sprains, or other injuries.Either take or apply an analgesic to your ankle to relieve pain.
- Be aware that analgesics only address pain and won’t reduce swelling.
- Rub an analgesic cream on your ankle. You can get over-the-counter topical analgesics under names such as Aspercreme, Ben-Gay, Capzasin-P, Eucalyptamint, and Icy Hot.
- Ask your doctor to prescribe a stronger topical analgesic such as Voltaren Gel.This may be especially useful if your ankle pain is from arthritis.
Control arthritic pain and inflammation with corticosteroids.If your ankle pain and/or inflammation is due to arthritis in your ankle, ask your doctor to prescribe either an oral corticosteroid or give you an injection.Corticosteroids can relieve pain and inflammation very quickly.
- Corticosteroids should not be used for acute injuries like sprains. They can impair the healing process and can have many side effects, including high blood pressure, glaucoma, cataracts, headache, weight gain, ulcers, and more.
Move your ankle.After a few days, start gently moving your ankle.This can help relieve pain, prevent stiffness, and get you back to regular activities.
- Rotate your ankle in circles in both directions.
- Flex your ankle up and down with your hand.
- Ask your doctor if there are any movements or light exercises that can relieve your pain and promote healing.
Get physical therapy.Consider seeing a physical therapist to help stretch and strengthen your ankle. It may relieve your pain and inflammation.
- Schedule an appointment with a physical therapist after you’ve tried RICE.
- Ask the therapist questions you have about exercises you can do at home.
- Consider that studies have shown the benefits of eccentric stretching, which lengthens muscles, on pain-causing conditions such as tendinitis.
See your doctor.If your pain doesn’t go away within a few weeks, schedule an appointment with your doctor. She can help rule out more serious conditions such as a fracture, gout, or arthritis.
- See your doctor or go to an emergency room immediately if you can’t put weight on your ankle or it appears broken, have severe pain even when you’re resting, or if your ankle makes a popping sound when you move it.
- Visit your regular doctor or an orthopedist, which is a doctor who specializes in structural conditions like sprains and arthritis.
- Tell your doctor about your symptoms and what type of treatment you’ve been using.
- Ask her any questions you may have about your ankle pain.
Have medical treatments.Depending on the outcome of your doctor’s appointment, you may need medical treatment for your ankle pain. These can relieve your pain and manage underlying conditions.Some possible medical treatments for underlying causes of ankle pain include:
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for inflammatory arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis)
- Biologic response modifiers like interferon for inflammatory arthritis
- Uric acid-reducing drugs for gout such as allopurinol
- Drugs that slow bone loss or build new bone for osteoporosis such as denosumab.
QuestionI have had pain in my left ankle for 10 days. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUse the RICE treatment method described in the article. If there is swelling and pain, stay off it for a couple of days and see if it improves.Thanks!
QuestionI have pain in my left ankle and knee for two years. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTake a good look at how you are standing. You should try to stand as centered as possible, insoles might help as well. Whenever you are sitting down, try to write the ABC's with your ankle as a strengthening and stretching exercise.Thanks!
QuestionMy ankle randomly started hurting like 2 minutes ago. It hurts even when I am resting. Any ideas?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry using a supporting bandage and apply ice for 20 minutes at a time. Unless you’ve damaged something, the pain should go away within a few days.Thanks!
QuestionMy feet have been hurting for a year, to the extent that I can't even sleep.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerConsult your doctor. Any time you're ill or in pain for longer than a month, it's best to ask a professional.Thanks!
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- These treatments are not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider if you are unsure of something.
Video: Mayo Clinic Minute: Ankle sprains 101
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