Ankle pain can be caused by something as minor as an ill-fitting shoe or as major as an injury. Many kinds of ankle pain originate on the outer, or lateral, side of the ankle. People with ankle pain often complain about difficulty walking or participating in sports. Some types of ankle pain are constant and dull and can be accompanied by imbalance, swelling, stiffness, or tenderness. More serious types of ankle pain can be caused by a sprain, which happens when the ligaments between the bones are stretched or torn. Without medical attention and/or physical therapy, an untreated ankle sprain will often leave your ankle permanently disabled or weak, leaving you open to repeated sprains and other injuries.
Another kind of ankle pain is neuropathic, or nerve-related. This happens when the nerves that pass through the ankle become pinched or stretched, torn, injured by a direct blow, or under pressure.
Other sources of ankle pain include:
- A torn or inflamed tendon
- Arthritis of the ankle joint
- A fracture
- Synovium, which is inflammation of the joint lining
- Scar-tissue formation in an ankle joint following a sprain; the scar tissue fills up the space in the joint, putting pressure on the ligaments