What is Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain?
Chronic lateral ankle pain refers to long standing pain of the outer aspect of the ankle. It can be caused due to a variety of reasons and causes pain on movement.
What causes Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain?
The most common cause for chronic lateral ankle pain is failure of a recent ankle sprain to heal completely. Other causes include inflammation of the tendons or joint, arthritis, injury to the muscles, nerves and tendons around the ankle joint and scar tissue development during the healing process following an ankle injury.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The most common symptom that patients experience is pain of the outer aspect of the ankle. The pain is worse on movement of the ankle and patients have significant difficulty in mobilizing and participating in any form of activity.
Upon examination of the ankle, there is clear evidence of swelling and stiffness of the joint, associated with tenderness on touching the joint.
In most cases, a clinical history and examination is sufficient to make a diagnosis. X-ray examinations of the foot and ankle may be performed to rule out evidence of fracture. Tests may be performed to ascertain the range of movement of the ankle to decide on appropriate treatment measures.
How is Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain treated?
Painkillers formed the mainstay of treatment. These can include over-the-counter medications such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen. Icepack application can help reduce the swelling and resting the joint is essential. If inflammation and pain is severe, steroids may be injected into the joint and around the muscles to help reduce this.
Physical therapy also plays an important role in managing chronic lateral ankle pain. Once the swelling has subsided and the pain is under control with the help of painkillers, physical therapy can help improve the range of movement and increase the strength of the muscles and tendons around the ankle joint. In addition to this, over time the foot and ankle will be able to bear the weight of the body.
Sometimes, supports may be required to help rest the ankle joint. These can include custom made ankle braces or orthoses.
In certain rare cases, when the above treatment options fail, surgery may be required. This usually involves arthroscopic surgery and the removal of any debris, loose tissue fragments and joint washout. Any damage tendons may be repaired as well.
Prevention of Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain
Since the number one cause for chronic ankle pain is injury, it is essential to be careful when participating in any activities that can place strain on the ankle. If an injury does occur, it is essential to follow the advice of the treating physician and take adequate rest to allow the ankle to heal. Physical therapists offer essential advice and should be observed to ensure the ankle is prepared to undergo the repeated stress of physical activity after it is healed.