Pain in the Ankle

By Andrew Heideman, PT, ATC

Causes of Pain in the Ankle

This condition can be for several different reasons. The ankle joint can be injured by ligament sprain or fracture.  The severity of the injury is determined by the amount of damage to the ankle’s ligaments or a fracture or break to the bones of the ankle.  An X-ray is needed to determine if the ankle is broken.

Pain in the ankle joint causes

The anatomy of the pain in the ankle.


Ankle Sprains

ice helps with pain in the ankle

Causes of Pain in the Ankle

There are 3 different grades of ankle sprains:

  • Grade I ankle sprain – The lateral ligaments are strained or overstretched but not torn.  This is the most common of the ankle sprains with mild swelling.  Mild swelling is present with some pain over one of the three lateral ligaments.
  • Grade II ankle sprain – This is when there is partial tearing of one or several of these ligaments.  Moderate swelling is present over the outside of the ankle. The patient will need some assistance to walk without a limp.
  • Grade III ankle sprain – This is a complete rupture (tear) of one or more of the lateral ligaments.  Significant swelling and pain over the lateral aspect of the ankle.  The patient has pain when they try to weight bear on the ankle.  This sometimes requires surgical intervention.

The severity of the ankle injury can be determined by the amount of swelling, the inability to bear weight on the ankle, and the amount of pain.  However, it is important to be properly evaluated by an orthopedic physician.

Our medical library and trending section also has articles about the other causes of pain in the ankle.  Here are the link for the library and our JOI trending section.

Are There Foot and Ankle Symptoms that I Should Not Ignore?

The quick answer is yes.  If you have pain with walking or increased swelling in your feet or ankles, you should see a foot and ankle specialist.  To learn more, read this article on 5 Foot and Ankle Symptoms You Should Not Ignore.

Physical Therapy for Ankle Pain 


Physical Therapy often helps with the pain and swelling associated with ankle injuries.  Sometimes the joint will be immobilized with a walking boot or a brace.  To decrease the amount of pressure on the joint, crutches may be issued to allow the joint to heal.  Physical therapy modalities and gentle ROM can help decrease the swelling and pain in the ankle joint.  It is also important to continue rehab to improve the strength and proprioception or balance of the involved ankle.

If you want to learn more about ankle sprains, please go to this video: Ankle Sprains.

JOI Fracture and Injury Care

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP fracture and injury care. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000.

To schedule an appointment with a JOI Orthopaedic Ankle Specialist, please call JOI-2000, schedule online, or click below.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician

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