Why Does My Ankle Hurt For No Reason?

When your ankle starts hurting after no injury occurs, it can often prompt you to ask yourself the question, “why does my ankle hurt for no reason?” In almost all cases, your ankle did not just start hurting out of nowhere and, although it can sometimes be an obvious reason, there is a reason for it nonetheless. 

Ankle pain usually is the result of an injury, but it doesn’t have to be. Fractures and sprains are common injuries that cause ankle pain, but different levels of pain can also be a result of arthritis or even an underlying autoimmune condition. In this blog, we will explore the structure of the ankle, possible causes for ankle pain, and how to understand what to do when sudden ankle pain affects your life.

A Brief Look at the Structure of Your Ankle

The ankle is a very complex network of bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. There are two main joints of the ankle, the true ankle, and the subtalar joints. The true ankle or ‘upper ankle’ joint is composed of three bones: the tibia, the fibula, and the talus. The tibia forms the inside portion of the ankle, the fibula forms the outside portion of the ankle, and the talus forms the portion that is underneath. The true ankle joint is responsible for the horizontal up-and-down movement of the foot. Beneath the true ankle joint is the subtalar or ‘lower ankle’ joint which is responsible for allowing side-to-side motion of the foot.

Each of the two joints above (true and subtalar joints) are covered by articular cartilage that connects all the major ligaments of the ankle and provides stability. All of these components of the ankle work along with the muscles and tendons of your lower leg to handle the pressure and stress as you walk, run, and jump. 

Common Causes & Conditions Of Ankle Pain Without Injury

With all of the stress all the components of your ankle face on a day-to-day basis, ankle sprains, and injuries are common – but what happens when there is no obvious injury to pinpoint the pain to? If you’re experiencing symptoms of ankle pain such as swelling, redness, difficulty walking or balancing, bruising, stiffness, burning sensation, or even a tingling sensation, it’s important to rule out multiple conditions by a medical professional.

If an injury or physical activity is not the cause of your symptoms and pain, a number of other conditions can be responsible. Ankle pain can actually result in a variety of conditions from a wide spectrum of causes, including:

  • Flat Feet. If there is no arch in your feet, the ankles can swell because they are no longer in alignment with your knees.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. A condition arising from excessive inflammation in the joints is commonly noticed if you experience ankle pain while running or doing other daily activities.
  • Osteoarthritis. A condition where the cartilage between two joints wears down and the bones rub against each other causing sudden ankle pain.
  • Achilles Tendinitis. A condition in which pain occurs in the back of the ankle where it develops small tears and the ankle feels tender, warm, or even slightly swollen.
  • Lupus. An autoimmune disease that leads to inflammation and fluid build-up in your joints causing ankle pain.
  • Gout. A condition where uric acid converts to sharp crystals in the joints of the feet and ankles causing intense swelling and pain.
  • Infections. Different types of bacteria can build up and cause an infection and swelling in your ankle. 

When to See a Doctor for Your Ankle Pain

If you’re not sure what is causing your ankle pain, it is so important to see a specialist to rule out more serious causes and conditions. Most strains will go away on their own, but because there is a chance ankle pain could be the underlying cause of a much more serious condition, it is important to see a doctor when you don’t know the direct cause.

Help for Your Ankle Pain No Matter the Severity

“So, what does it mean when my ankle starts hurting out of nowhere? And why does my ankle hurt for no reason?” Well, the short answer is there is always an underlying reason for ankle pain. There are, of course, many causes of ankle pain, so it’s important to reach out to a foot and ankle specialist for help. 

At Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies (OCR), we provide comprehensive, highly specialized podiatry care to residents of northern Colorado, Wyoming, and western Nebraska. They’ll be able to examine your ankle and get to the bottom of any unexplainable pain you’re experiencing. At Orthopeadic & Spine Center of the Rockies, that’s just what we’re passionate about – finding the source of and establishing a solution for your pain. If you’re experiencing ankle pain without a clear cause or injury, contact us today. We’re here to help you move like you used to.

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