Getting to the root cause of your ankle pain with physiotherapy treatment.
Dealing with ankle pain but not sure why? Since the ankle is used in so many activities and movements, discomfort and lack of function can be distressing. Sharp pain can be the result of many causes, such as an injury or underlying condition.
Fortunately, ankle pain may improve with our The Running Physio in Toronto, ON physiotherapy programs, which include at-home treatment plans, strengthening exercises, and specialized hands-on techniques.
If you’ve been experiencing ankle pain, call us to set up an appointment!
What Are the Different Parts of the Ankle?
When identifying your ankle pain, it’s helpful to understand the different parts of the ankle. This can also help you describe your pain to your practitioner and learn why certain techniques are involved in your treatment plan.
The ankle joint connects your foot to your lower leg. You rely on your ankles any time you move your feet and legs. This complex area contains cartilage, ligaments, bones, and muscles. Let’s take a look at the different components of the ankle:
Bones: There are three main bones in the ankle:
- Tibia (shinbone): The top of the tibia connects to the knee joint, while the bottom connects to the ankle joint.
- Fibula (calf bone): Located behind the tibial head at the knee joint and extends down to the ankle joint.
- The talus: The primary connector between the foot and leg, which works to transfer weight and pressure across the ankle joint.
Ligaments: Ankle ligaments connect bones in your foot to your lower leg. There are three main sets of ligaments in your ankle:
- Medial ligaments: Four ligaments that start at the bottom end of your tibia (medial malleolus) and extend to the talus, heel bone, and navicular bones in your foot.
- Lateral ligaments: A set of three ligaments that sit at the end of the fibula (forms the bump on the outside of your ankle). They also connect to the talus and calcaneus.
- Syndesmotic ligaments: A group of four ligaments connects the tibia and fibula.
Muscles: There are 10 muscles associated with the ankle out of the 29 involved in the human foot. Some of the most prominent include:
- The gastrocnemius and soleus (calf) muscles: These muscles push the foot down and allow us to go on our tippy toes. They both join at the ankle to form the Achilles tendon.
- The peroneal muscles: The peroneal muscles are located on the outside of the ankle. They work to push the foot down and turn it out, and also prevent sprains by supporting the lateral ankle.
Most Common Causes of Ankle Pain
Sharp ankle pain can result from several injuries and conditions. Some of the most common reasons you may be experiencing ankle pain include:
- Sprains: Sprained ankles are one of the most common causes of ankle pain. An ankle sprain occurs when ligaments stretch or tear. These injuries occur when the ankle forcefully rolls out of its normal position.
- Tendinitis: Soft-tissue injury that causes irritated and inflamed tendons. Achilles tendinitis is a common form that contributes to ankle pain.
- Arthritis: Pain and stiffness in the ankle joint can be a symptom of arthritis in the ankle. Arthritis occurs when cartilage (tissue that cushions bones) breaks down, causing bones to rub together. Several types of arthritis can affect the ankles, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Gout is another type of arthritis that results from a buildup of uric acid throughout the body. This condition can cause severe pain in the ankle.
- Bursitis: When the bursae (fluid-filled sacs that cushion your bones) become irritated and inflamed.
- Fractures: A broken bone. Fractures occur due to an accident or injury and can range from mild to severe. A broken ankle causes ankle swelling and sharp pain.
How Physiotherapy Can Treat Ankle Pain
Physiotherapy can help strengthen the muscles and joints around the ankle and improve range of motion. Our physiotherapists at The Running Physio in Toronto, ON will take a look at your ankle and ask you questions about the severity of your pain. It’s important that we know all details pertaining to your condition, including your medical history and the timeline of your pain. We can also address any concerns that you may have about treatment. Following the assessment, we’ll design a treatment plan customized to your condition and unique needs.
There are several different methods that may be used in treatment, including:
- Education: During treatment, you will learn more about your condition and how to manage symptoms. Your physiotherapist may give you a home exercise regime to aid in the recovery process.
- Strengthening exercises: Ankle pain may be associated with weak, injured, or uncoordinated leg muscles. In this case, your practitioner will provide specific exercises to restore your strength and aid in the healing process.
- Manual therapy: Manual therapy is when your practitioner uses their hands to apply pressure, massage the area, or use other techniques to ease pain and improve functions. Techniques that we use for ankle pain include:
- Mobilizations: Technique that involves a forceful, direct application of pressure to the joint.
- Therapeutic Massage: Massage breaks up tension and alleviates pain so you can move better.
- Passive stretching: Depending on your condition or injury, your physiotherapist may use passive stretching as part of treatment. They will manually stretch your foot while you rest in a specific position to reduce pain and improve mobility.
- Lasers: Works by energizing cells and increasing circulation to the injured area, which ultimately reduces pain.
- Electrical stimulation: Helps to control and reduce your pain and swelling by using electric currents.
- Kinesio tape: Used to reduce pain, alter muscle function, and improve circulation following an injury.
- Balance training: Balance training is intended to help you learn proper coordination when it comes to walking and engaging in other physical activities. This technique can also help improve postural control and prevent future injuries.
- Proprioception training: This typically consists of exercises designed to challenge your balance and body awareness. Your physiotherapist may start with a simple exercise, such as standing on one foot, and gradually progress as your skills improve.
Proprioception training may reduce the risk of ankle sprain recurrence, improve functional stability, and enhance overall athletic performance.
The specific treatments that you receive will be based on your condition, the severity of your pain, and other important health factors.
Request an Appointment Today!
Whether ankle pain has been a recent occurrence or a chronic issue, treatment should be top of mind. Our physiotherapists strive to help you achieve a better quality of life with our comprehensive treatment plans.
Call The Running Physio in Toronto, ON today to learn more and schedule an appointment!