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Ankle pain

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read
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Ankle pain is one of the most common types of joint pain and there are many different causes. If you have had a trauma like a high-impact sports injury, there may be the possibility of a broken bone. If you haven’t had any trauma, there are many different causes such as skin problems, joint problems like arthritis or gout, muscle and tendon problems like Achilles tendinopathy, and many more. If you have severe pain, or pain that is not subsiding with simple pain relief, you may need to seek advice from your doctor.

Do I need an X-ray?

If you have had a traumatic injury and have severe pain, you may require an X-ray. Symptoms suggesting a fracture are if you’re unable to stand on the injured foot, the foot appears to be at a different angle to normal, and if there's significant bruising and swelling around the area.

Tight or badly fitting footwear and simple strains and sprains can be common causes of ankle pain, and these usually require only treatment at home.

Healthwords pharmacists' top tips

Resting the foot, raising it up, and taking some simple pain relief such as acetaminophen is a good place to start. If there has been an injury, an ice pack or bag of peas wrapped in a tea towel may provide some relief.

Your pharmacist is an expert and can recommend further treatments such as different painkillers, topical treatments or support for the injured ankle.

When should I see my doctor?

Most causes of ankle pain will improve with some self-treatment. If you still have pain that is not improving after two weeks, then book a routine appointment with your doctor to discuss this.

You should seek more urgent medical attention if you have severe pain. If you are concerned you have suffered a fracture, or have had a high impact injury to your ankle, you will likely require an X-ray.

If you have severe symptoms such as numbness, weakness, fevers, or a break to the skin and have diabetes you should seek urgent medical advice from your doctor or the emergency department.

What will my doctor do?

The doctor will ask about your symptoms, your medical history, any relevant family medical history and what medications you take. They will examine your ankle, and potentially do other tests such as a blood test and possibly an X-ray.

If you go to a hospital, a doctor or nurse will examine you, and if there is a concern that your ankle is broken you will have an X-ray and various other tests. If a fracture is confirmed you will be advised of the best next step.

Related topics

Read about Swollen ankles

Read about Joint pain relief

Read about Muscle pain relief

Read about Pain

Read about Achilles tendinopathy

Read about Shin pain

Read about Foot pain

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Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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