Do you have pain on the outer side of your ankle? If so, you’re not alone. Tens of thousands of people suffer ankle sprains each day, and if it doesn’t heal correctly, it can lead to pain on the outer side of your ankle. This condition is known as chronic lateral ankle pain, and while it can be uncomfortable, it can also lead to bigger ankle problems if not treated correctly. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at chronic lateral ankle pain and how it is treated.
Understanding Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain
As we alluded to in the intro, chronic lateral ankle pain is typically a condition that develops after an ankle sprain. During an ankle sprain, the ligaments on the outside of your ankle (known as your lateral ankle ligaments) can stretch and tear. If these ligaments don’t heal property, or you don’t work to help strengthen the nearby muscles and tissues affected by the sprain, your ankle can become uncomfortable or painful. Other symptoms include:
Consistent, dull pain
Pain that worsens with activity
Repeated ankle sprains
None of those symptoms may sound all that severe, but given how straightforward treatment is and what untreated ligament damage can lead to, it’s worth it to consult with a specialist if you’re dealing with chronic lateral ankle pain. Left untreated, chronic lateral ankle pain can lead to ankle arthritis, nerve damage and ankle fractures if the ankle becomes unstable and leads to more frequent or severe ankle sprains.
Diagnosing And Treating Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain
If your ankle doesn’t feel “normal” weeks after your initial ankle sprain, or you’ve just suffered a sprain and want to develop a treatment plan, set up an appointment with a foot and ankle specialist. They’ll begin by conducting a physical exam to look at the damaged ankle, and they may ask about your symptoms and have you perform some walking tests, depending on the severity of the sprain. From there, they will likely order an X-ray or MRI to see which ligaments, muscles or tissues have been damaged.
Treatment will focus on helping the injured area both recover and strengthen. Oftentimes, this is best achieved through a physical therapy and range of motion conditioning program. It’s not enough to just allow the structures time to heal, we need to be proactive and strengthen the area so that it can remain stable and displace stress as needed to support the foot.
If physical therapy doesn’t fully address your pain, your specialist may recommend surgery. Dr. Silverman has performed countless minimally invasive operations to address chronic ankle instability and chronic lateral ankle pain, and he can do the same for you. Using minimally invasive techniques, the lateral ankle ligaments are surgically strengthened, and when coupled with physical therapy after the fact, oftentimes your ankle ligaments will end up stronger than they were prior to the injury, leaving you better equipped to handle athletic movements.