Why do I have sudden ankle pain without an injury?

Why Do I Have Sudden Ankle Pain Without an Injury?

When you feel sudden pain in your ankle, you might automatically assume that you sustained an injury. But there are actually plenty of reasons why you could be feeling sudden pain, especially in your ankle, which has to carry your entire body weight.

Even without injury, ankle pain can interfere with your quality of life because it can make it difficult to stand or walk without wincing. If you feel like the pain has come out of nowhere, it’s important to determine the cause so that you can seek proper treatment, such as physical therapy. 

Read on to learn about the basics of sudden ankle pain, possible causes for ankle pain without injury and how physical therapy can help. You’ll also learn about what to expect during your first physical therapy appointment.

What does it mean to have sudden ankle pain without injury?

Ankle pain can happen to anyone. Some people experience gradual ankle pain that progresses over time, like people who spend extensive amounts of time on their feet. Other people have sudden ankle pain, even if they haven’t sustained an injury.

Sudden ankle pain can feel different for everyone, depending on the cause. Perhaps you woke up with a dull ache in your joint that wasn’t there when you went to bed, but now seems to be lingering for a while. Or maybe there’s a quick, shooting pain in your ankle that feels like it came out of nowhere. This is normally acute pain that lasts just a few minutes. 

Sudden ankle pain can also occur alongside other symptoms, including:

  • Stiffness that interferes with your range of motion.
  • Tenderness.
  • Swelling.
  • Instability.

3 potential reasons for sudden ankle pain without injury

Even without the possibility of injury, there are several potential reasons that you may be feeling sudden ankle pain. These medical conditions can all result in feeling pain without any precursor. 

Here are three possible reasons for sudden ankle pain without injury:

  • Arthritis — There are several different types of arthritis that could cause joint inflammation and sudden ankle pain, such as osteoarthritis and reactive arthritis. Osteoarthritis can result in the cartilage between your ankle bones to break down, causing them to rub together in a painful manner. Reactive arthritis refers to arthritis pain that’s triggered by an infection in a different part of the body.

  • Achilles tendinitis — There’s a tendon that connects your calf muscle to your heel, known as the Achilles tendon. Wear and tear due to repetitive movements or a high amount of walking could cause inflammation known as Achilles tendinitis. It can cause a sharp pain at the back of your heel.

  • Bursitis — Your ankle joint consists of bones that are cushioned by bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs. Overuse, excessive stress on the bones or ill-fitting shoes can cause the bursae to become inflamed, resulting in pain that can build up over time or occur suddenly.

How physical therapy can help treat your sudden ankle pain without injury

If you don’t have an injury, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of your sudden ankle pain. Without knowing the cause, you may not be able to determine which treatment options will be the most effective. The good news is that a physical therapist will not only help figure out the cause of your sudden ankle pain, but they can find the treatment options that will reduce the ache and help restore the joint’s mobility.

Since most of the causes of sudden ankle pain are due to inflammation, your physical therapist will likely recommend manual therapy techniques to help alleviate the ache. Techniques like soft tissue mobilization and joint mobilization involve the therapist using their hands to loosen up tight tissue and release the painful tension that’s restricting your range of motion.

A physical therapist will walk you through exercises that will help strengthen the muscles surrounding your joint to increase stability. They will also guide you through stretches that can improve your ankle’s flexibility and range of motion.

What to expect from your first physical therapy visit for sudden ankle pain without injury

If you’ve never been to physical therapy, it can be comforting to know what to expect beforehand. For sudden ankle pain, your initial visit will mostly consist of a physical therapist doing an evaluation of your ankle. They will assess your symptoms as well as your ankle’s range of motion.

After getting a better idea of the pain and potential causes, your physical therapist will work with you to determine the goals you hope to achieve throughout your sessions. They will design a personalized treatment plan that will help alleviate your pain as well as increase the strength, flexibility and function of the joint.

Armor Physical Therapy can help alleviate sudden ankle pain without injury

Many people may assume that sudden ankle pain is due to an injury, but there’s a wide variety of reasons that you could be experiencing sudden onset ankle pain. Whatever the cause is, we have the treatment that can help alleviate your symptoms so you can get back to your day-to-day physical tasks.

Contact us today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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