You haven’t sprained your ankle—at least not recently—but it hurts and is stiff and swollen at times. This is a complaint we at Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center sometimes hear from our Los Angeles county patients. When an ankle sprain occurs, our podiatrists, Dr. Victoria M. Foley and Dr. Constance Ornelas always stress the importance of prompt and complete rehabilitation. Many chronic ankle issues stem from a previous injury. Below are two types of chronic ankle trouble and what to do about them.
Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain
The characteristic symptom of chronic lateral ankle pain is pain along the outside of the ankle. You may also experience discomfort in your leg along with stiffness, swelling, and tenderness in the ankle. Many patients also report that their ankle feels like it is unstable or going to “give way” especially when walking on surfaces that are not level or when wearing heels. Although the most common cause of chronic lateral pain is a past sprain or injury, there are other possible sources, including:
- Fractures in the ankle joint bones
- Arthritis or inflammation in the joint, joint lining or tendons
- Nerve damage
- Scar tissue
Treatment Options: The treatment for chronic lateral ankle pain will depend on the source. If the podiatrist finds a break in a bone, it may be necessary to immobilize the ankle to allow the bone to heal. Other possible treatments include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications or a prescription steroid
- Physical therapy
- Ankle brace or another type of support
The symptoms of osteochondritis often mimic those of an ankle sprain: pain, stiffness, and swelling in the ankle joint. You may also find it difficult to bear weight on the ankle. This condition can affect people at any age and is almost always due to a previous sprain that may have caused lesions or a stress fracture on the surface of the joint.
Treatment Options: The foot doctor will first want to x-ray the ankle that’s bothering you to check for fractures or other injuries. This can be done right in our Long Beach office. At a minimum, the ankle will likely have to be immobilized to rest the joint and allow it to heal. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove bone fragments or cartilage, stimulate new blood vessels, and promote scar tissue.