What Are the Most Common Causes of Foot and Ankle Pain?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Achilles tendinitis is a common cause of ankle pain.
Achilles tendinitis is a common cause of ankle pain.

Foot and ankle pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, including tendinitis, bone fractures, pronation, arthritis, injuries resulting from trauma, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and so on. Determining the cause of the foot and ankle pain will very often require one or more trips to a doctor who can perform tests to discover the cause and come up with an effective treatment plan. If the foot pain worsens or persists, a doctor's visit should be scheduled immediately, and if the pain is the result of an injury, it is important to keep weight off the foot and ankle as much as possible.

Bone fractures can lead to foot and ankle pain.
Bone fractures can lead to foot and ankle pain.

Tendinitis occurs when the tendons, which connect muscles to bones, become inflamed. This inflammation can happen for many reasons, including direct injury from trauma, rubbing against bone or muscle, incorrect walking or running gait, overuse, and so on. In most cases, tendinitis can be treated with the RICE treatment; RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. More severe cases of tendinitis that cause foot and ankle pain may require medications or even steroid injections. A doctor may also prescribe painkilling medication. Adequate stretching and conditioning before physical activity can help prevent tendinitis in the first place, thereby avoiding this type of foot and ankle pain altogether.

Soaking the feet may help with pain.
Soaking the feet may help with pain.

Arthritis is perhaps one of the more common causes of foot and ankle pain. This condition occurs when the cartilage and ligaments in a joint begin to degrade, leading to inflammation, swelling, and pain. There is no cure for arthritis, but treatment options are available. Regular exercise and stretching are usually recommended, though when the arthritis is at its most painful, it is a good idea to rest and elevate the affected joints. Medications are available to help alleviate the pain, and in very severe instances of arthritis, a partial or full joint replacement may be necessary.

Arthritis is a common cause of ankle and foot pain.
Arthritis is a common cause of ankle and foot pain.

Injuries are the most common cause of foot and ankle pain, especially among athletes. Muscle strains and tears, ligament sprains, and bone fractures can lead to foot and ankle pain that can be a mild inconvenience or a completely incapacitating condition. Less severe muscle strains and ligament sprains can also be treated with the RICE treatment, as can mild fractures. More severe muscle tears, known as ruptures, or ligament tears will require more intense treatment that may include surgery. Severe bone fractures need to be addressed by a doctor immediately.

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    • Achilles tendinitis is a common cause of ankle pain.
      By: Alila
      Achilles tendinitis is a common cause of ankle pain.
    • Bone fractures can lead to foot and ankle pain.
      By: Julián Rovagnati
      Bone fractures can lead to foot and ankle pain.
    • Soaking the feet may help with pain.
      By: Mykola Velychko
      Soaking the feet may help with pain.
    • Arthritis is a common cause of ankle and foot pain.
      By: Kaarsten
      Arthritis is a common cause of ankle and foot pain.
    • Ice packs may help relieve foot and ankle pain.
      By: buffaloboy2513
      Ice packs may help relieve foot and ankle pain.
    • A sprained ligament is a common cause of ankle pain.
      By: Antonioguillem
      A sprained ligament is a common cause of ankle pain.
    • Injuries are the most common cause of foot and ankle pain, especially among athletes.
      By: lightwavemedia
      Injuries are the most common cause of foot and ankle pain, especially among athletes.
    • An improper running gait can lead to foot tendonitis and other injuries.
      By: Maridav
      An improper running gait can lead to foot tendonitis and other injuries.