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Pain Edu: Ankle Pain

Orange County’s Guide to Ankle Pain:

What is ankle pain?

One major misconception about ankle pain is that it only happens to athletes however ankle problems can occur no matter what your age or activity. Due to the ever changing surfaces we walk on, our ankle and foot takes quite a beating. There are numerous factors that can result in ankle pain. Choosing to wear or not to wear shoes, the type of shoe, the kind of surface we walk on, and the kind of activity we engage in may only be minimally related to ankle pain. On the other hand, poor balance, ankle mobility or lack of mobility, abnormal knee position, weakness of hip muscles, and poor core stabilization will all effect how the ankle and foot is loaded when stepping, jumping, or running. These factors directly influence ankle health and strength. Proper management and evaluation is important in preventing injury, staying healthy, and improving performance.

Pain Edu: 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 sprains are injuries of the ligaments that hold your ankle bones and joints together. Symptoms will vary from mild pain and weakness, swelling, bruising, to extreme cases where walking or weight bearing is not possible. Mild sprains improve over a few weeks however if may reoccur again if not properly treated. Severe sprains can take months to heal and may require surgery if not properly managed.



Repetitive stress on tendons will result in inflammation and injury known as tendinitis. Typically, tendinitis will occur due to improper shoe fitting, repetitive activity with minimal rest, or poor foot/ankle mechanics. Once the cause is identified and treated, the ankle is able to move better without stressing the tendons.

Achilles Injuries

Achilles Injuries

Similar to tendinitis, Achilles’ tendon injures are caused by repetitive overuse and improper loading mechanics of the foot and ankle. This tendon can become swollen and tender and sometime tear away from the heel. The ankles ability to absorb shock/force when landing from a jump is often the main contributing factor in most injuries.

Bone Spurs

Bone Spurs

Ankle spurs are typically the beginning stages of Achilles tendinitis and injury. Symptoms are swelling and point tenderness on the back to the heel that will sometimes result in spur formation and a noticeable “protrusion” on the back of the heel.



Ongoing irritation and Inflammation of the ankle joint may result in cartilage “wear and tear.” Ankle arthritis is characterized by stiffness and swelling that may be worse in the morning or evening. Once the joint is warmed up and stretched, symptoms typically improve however it is important to continue to stretch to prevent further tissue damage.

Ankle Bursitis

Ankle Bursitis

Ankle bursitis is a condition that affects the small, fluid-filled sacs called bursae which cushion the ankle bones, tendons and muscles. Bursitis occurs when bursae become inflamed. Bursitis can be caused by pressure on the ankle, poor fitting shoes, or medical issues.

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.



If your pain isn’t increased by movement, stretching the ankle muscles could be the first step to decreasing ankle pain.


Heat/Cold Packs

Applying heat or cold packs to the ankle can help decrease inflammation and pain. Apply the packs in intervals of 15 minutes in order to reduce damage to the skin surrounding the ankle.



When you experience pain it is critical to rest your ankle and limit your activity so that the joint has an opportunity to heal.


Physical therapy

Our physical therapy approach combines technology, manual therapy and corrective exercise. We use all of these techniques in our therapy sessions, this separates us from other Physical Therapists in Orange County.

Six stretches for ankle pain

Try these exercises to help alleviate your ankle pain. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist before you try these and stop if you sense discomfort or pain.

Ankle Circle Stretch

Dorsiflexion Stretch with Towel

Ankle Alphabet Stretches

Mobility Exercises

Basic Sitting Stretches

Peroneus Longus Stretch

Find out what more you can do about your ankle pain.

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