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Pain 101: Ankle Pain


Ankle pain may come in many different forms and can be the result of a variety of different problems.
Pain in the ankle can be extremely debilitating and severely limit one’s enjoyment of daily activities.

Pain 101: Intro To Ankle Pain

Are you experiencing pain or problems in your ankle? Click on this video to learn more about ankle pain and steps you can take to decrease your pain.


The main types of ankle pain

Ankle Sprain

Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain results when the ligaments of the ankle are either stretched too far or tear due to injury.



Achilles tendonitis/tendonosis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. If not resolved, the condition may progress to a degeneration of the tendon in which the tendon loses its organized structure and is likely to develop microscopic tears.

Posterior Tibialis Tendon

Posterior Tibialis Tendon

The posterior tibialis tendon, located on the inside of the ankle, serves as one of the major supporting structures of the foot. Posterior tibialis tendon dysfunction (PTTD) is a condition caused by changes in the tendon and can result in pain in the inside of the ankle or foot, swelling, inward rolling of the ankle, or flattening of the foot.

Peroneal Tendon Pathology

Peroneal Tendon Pathology

The main function of the peroneal tendons are to stabilize the foot and outside of the ankle and protect it from sprains. Injuries most commonly occur in individuals who participate in sports that involve repetitive ankle cutting motions and can result in pain at the outside of the ankle, pain in the foot, swelling, or outward rolling of the ankle.

Ankle Arthritis

Ankle Arthritis

Ankle Arthritis typically refers to the wearing away of the joint surface which can cause pain in the ankle. It may result in deformity, loss of joint function, and decreased ability to walk.

Shin Splints

Shin Splints

Aches and pains in the front of your lower legs can be symptoms of shin splints which is a general term covering injury and/or overuse of the lower leg and surrounding tissues.

What can you do about your ankle pain?

The solution to your ankle pain depends on the source of your pain and type of injury you may have sustained. The first step is to consult with your doctor and discuss their recommendations for treating the pain in your ankle. Your doctor may recommend restrictions on specific activities, medication and/or physical therapy. You can try the following steps now to help alleviate your pain.


It is important when you are experiencing ankle pain to limit your activity and rest so that your ankle can heal.

Cold Packs

Apply cold packs to your ankle to decrease pain and inflammation in the joints and muscles. To prevent damage to skin and surrounding tissue, cold packs should only be applied in 15 minute intervals.


If you don’t have increased pain with movement, stretching and increasing the range of motion of the ankle can be the first step in helping to loosen up muscles and joints and decrease the pain.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy consists of hands on treatment to loosen muscles and joints, education on proper gait and movement to decrease pain, instruction on stretching and strengthening exercises to restore mobility and strength, and modalities such as electrical stimulation, cold/heat and ultrasound.

Exercises for ankle pain

Following are a few exercises you can perform that may help alleviate pain. Please go to LIFE+ for more videos that may help you. Please consult your physician before trying these, and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.

What is Physical Therapy?

  • Physical therapists are trained, licensed specialists who help individuals develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and function. Physical therapists specialize in helping restore flexibility and strength to the ankle to allow you to move normally and enjoy your life, pain free. Discuss with your doctor if physical therapy is a good option for your ankle pain.

Treatment Approach

  • Medical research has shown physical therapy to be an effective treatment with positive long term outcomes for patients with ankle pain. A successful treatment plan consists of the following: hands-on therapy, an exercise program, posture & body mechanics training, and modalities (cold/heat, ultrasound electrical stimulation).

Hands-On Therapy

Physical therapists are trained to apply specialized, hands-on techniques that help relax tight muscles and restore joint movement in the ankle.

Exercise Program

A patient-specific exercise program focusing on mobility and strength will be designed to help you return to your optimal daily activity and quality of life.

Gait and Body Mechanics Training

Physical therapists are experts at movement analysis. Your physical therapist will help you improve your gait and body mechanics for daily activities.


Cold/heat, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation are used to decrease pain and relax the muscles.