Ankle pain is an extremely common complaint that often has a very significant impact on one’s life.
Whether it is daily pain causing a significant reduction in the ability to walk, or exercise-related pain causing the inability to perform sports, the key to successful foot and ankle pain treatment is an accurate diagnosis. Orthopaedic surgeons should aim to provide individualised ankle pain treatment plans focusing on returning patients to their previous level of activity in a multi-disciplinary way, using modern techniques of diagnosis and management.
In this article we outline some common conditions and some of the ankle pain treatments available.
A sprain is a common source of ankle pain. Most ankle sprains do not require medical input, but those with more severe injuries that fail to resolve over a short period of time may require investigation and a more focused treatment protocol. These treatments include patient- and injury-specific rehabilitation with the more severe injuries requiring repair or reconstruction of damaged ligaments and possibly key-hole (arthroscopic) surgery.
Achilles tendon tear (rupture)
In recent years there has been a shift from surgical repair of Achilles tendon injuries to non-surgical care with an accelerated rehabilitation protocol with excellent outcomes in both groups. The preferred treatment for an Achilles tendon tear should be discussed with each specific patient and the different options should be discussed.
Achilles tendinopathy/Plantar fasciitis (Heel pain)
Morning stiffness and pain around the heel are common and may relate to activity. Onset is usually slow but can often be put down to an ‘overuse’ phenomenon. In recent years the understanding of the causes and abnormalities seen within the Achilles tendon has led to new techniques in the treatment of heel pain, including physiotherapy, shockwave therapy, injection therapy and surgery to off-load the tendon, as well as the more traditional surgical treatments.
There are many other causes for both acute and chronic problems around the ankle. We have outlined three of the most common causes of ankle pain. For an acute diagnosis and management plan we recommend seeing an orthopaedic surgeon with an interest in foot and ankle conditions to allow early diagnosis and to guide and plan necessary individualised treatment.