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Left ankle pain: 7 conditions that could be causing yours

The ankle is a complex joint that is made up of bones, ligaments and tendons. Pain that is specific to your left ankle can be debilitating and affect your overall quality of life and mobility. To help treat it effectively, it is important to discover the underlying issue causing your left ankle pain.

Symptoms of ankle pain

Left ankle conditions can manifest in a variety of ways, including:

  • Pain — This pain can be dull, achy, sharp, or shooting and felt in or around the left ankle joint.
  • Swelling — Inflammation and swelling may occur due to injury or other underlying issues.
  • Stiffness — Your left ankle may become less mobile. This can make it challenging to move your foot freely.
  • Weakness — Left ankle pain may lead to muscle weakness in the left leg.
  • Instability — Due to stiffness or weakness, you may experience a sense of “giving” or instability in your left ankle.

Potential causes or conditions that could cause left ankle pain

Several factors or conditions could contribute to your left ankle pain, including:

  • Sprains — Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments are stretched or torn. This is often caused by a twisting motion and is a common cause of acute ankle pain. Ankle sprains are the cause of approximately 25,000 injuries in the United States each day. They are a common reason for emergency room trips and sports-related injuries.
  • Fractures — Broken bones in the ankle can cause severe pain and swelling. Ankle fractures may involve the tibia, fibula or talus. Fractures are less common than sprains but still affect a number of people each year. A four-year study between 2012 and 2016 found that 673,214 ankle fractures occurred in that time span.
  • Tendinitis — Tendinitis is a condition caused by the inflammation of the tendons around the ankle. It can be due to Achilles tendinitis or peroneal tendinitis. Both types of tendinitis can cause pain. Tendinitis is a common condition that plagues athletes and people who have physically demanding jobs.
  • Arthritis — Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can both affect the ankle joint. These conditions can cause chronic pain and stiffness in the ankle. Arthritis affects 58.5 million Americans.
  • Gout — Gout is a type of arthritis; it is characterized by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joint. This buildup can cause intense pain and swelling.
  • Bursitis — The bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that help to lubricate joints. When these sacs become inflamed, it is known as bursitis. Bursitis can result in pain and discomfort in the ankle.
  • Neuropathy — Neuropathy can be caused by nerve compression or nerve damage. It can result in radiating pain and discomfort in the ankle. Neuropathy is often caused by diabetes and affects up to 50% of those diagnosed with diabetes.

How can physical therapy help with left ankle pain?

Physical therapy can be a crucial component in ankle pain management. Expert physical therapists can create customized treatment plans to not only address underlying issues causing pain but also promote healing. The first step in the creation of a customized treatment plan is through a thorough evaluation and diagnosis if you don’t already have one. Your treatments may include:

  • Manual therapy — Hands-on techniques like joint mobilization and soft tissue mobilization can help reduce ankle pain, improve ankle joint range of motion, and boost blood circulation.
  • Therapeutic exercises — These targeted exercises can help to strengthen muscles around your left ankle and improve your stability. Range-of-motion exercises are intended to help restore your joint mobility.
  • Orthotics — Orthotics can be effective in helping to alleviate ankle pain. They can provide support, stability and proper ankle alignment. This can help reduce the strain on your ankle and promote natural healing.
  • Dry needling — Dry needling is a physical therapy technique that can be beneficial in helping ankle pain when it is caused by muscle tightness or other musculoskeletal issues. Thin, sterile needles are placed into specific spots in the affected ankle and can help release muscle tension, boost circulation and promote natural pain relief.
  • Functional assessment — Your physical therapist may conduct a functional assessment. This allows them to evaluate how well your ankle is functioning and make adjustments to your treatment plan as needed.
  • Aquatic therapy — Water-based exercises in a pool can provide you with a low-impact environment during your ankle rehabilitation. This can be incredibly beneficial for people who are in severe pain or have a limited weight-bearing capability.

Don’t let left ankle pain hold you back from the things you enjoy

Back in Motion can help you uncover the underlying issue causing your left ankle pain. Our team of expert physical therapists are highly qualified in determining the root cause of your discomfort and then designing a personalized treatment plan to help address it. Through a combination of techniques, they can help you work to alleviate your pain, improve your ankle function and boost your overall quality of life.

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

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