Ankle pain is as common as other types of joint pain. The ankles bear more force than even the knee when we stand, walk or run. Naturally this increases the likelihood of strain or injuries. Most of us do not think of ankle pain as being a serious condition. But it can be when there are underlying diseases or the pain is severe and persistent enough to hamper daily functioning. For some people it can reach a point where standing for more than a few minutes can be excruciating and limping becomes necessary to move around.
There many conditions involving the joint and surrounding structures which may lead to pain. The ankle like most joints is made up of bones, cartilage. ligaments, tendons of muscles and other soft tissue that supports the joint. Acute injuries like an ankle sprain, conditions like Achilles tendinitis and more long term diseases like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis are some of the possible causes of ankle pain that needs to be considered.
However, ankle pain is more often than not due to strain of the ankle joint and surrounding structures. Strain can be easily remedied with rest and changing lifestyle factors that contribute to it. Sometimes the strain is due to a more long term problem like being overweight or obese. The excess body weight can place strain on your joints even with walking a few yards as the ankle is not accustomed to the greater weight.
Resting Off Your Feet The Best Remedy
Rest is by far the best remedy for relieving ankle pain. At the end of a long day, the last thing you would want to do is place further strain on your ankles. Avoid standing unnecessarily. Even sitting with your feet touching the ground places some weight on the ankles. Get off your feet by sitting or lying down with your legs up.
If you have been all day from the morning then you should take a nice long break off your feet. Ensure that you are sleeping for enough hours at night. Apart from the benefits of sleep on the mind and energy levels, it also helps get you off your feet for a long enough time to let your ankles recover from the entire day of being on your feet.
Apply Ice Or Heat For Quick Relief
Applying ice of heat are some of the simplest remedies that can be done at home and give you quick relief from ankle pain. However, it is important to know when to use ice and when to use heat. Icing your ankles and surrounding areas is best when you have sustained an injury within the past 72 hours. Never apply ice directly on the skin.
Cover the ice in a thin cloth before applying it on the skin or use a cold pack if you have one. Ice the area for 20 minutes at a time. Heat is better for sore ankles without a recent injury. Be it a soak in a hot tub, a hot water bottle or heat pad it can help relieve the muscle strain and ease ankle pain. But avoid heat immediately after an injury as it can worsen the inflammation and the pain.
Avoid Using Tight Shoes Or High Heels
The shoes you wear can play a major role in the way force from the rest of your body is distributed through your feet. High heels are by far the worst option if you are suffering with ankle pain. It focuses the force of the body weight on the heel. Furthermore it alters your normal balance which strains the ankles as you walk around.
Tight shoes may be more of a strain on the feet than ankles but can also your gait in a way that then places strain on the ankles. Try to wear comfortable flat-soled shoes especially if your job demands that you stand on your feet or walk around for most of the day. Ergonomically-designed footwear may also be necessary if you are suffering with ankle and foot pain daily.
Sit With Your Legs Up Whenever Possible
The body transmits force down the spine, hips, legs and to the feet. While these bones are hard and strong, the joints in-between are flexible and weaker. With the ankles located so low down the legs, it has to be able to bear most of the body weight. This means a constant strain to the ankle joint. To counteract it, try putting up your legs wherever possible.
It is not only about raising your legs while you are at home watching TV or sleeping. Take every opportunity to give your ankles a “breather” by putting it up. There are some benefits of elevating the legs above the level of your heart but it is not practical to do during the working day. Instead sit with your legs raised even slightly to get the feet off the ground.
Lie Down With Your Feet Slightly Elevated
Elevating your legs slightly when you sleep has distinct benefits in terms of your blood circulation. The blood loses much of its momentum by the time it reaches the feet. There is insufficient force to return the blood back to the heart as is the case with other parts of the body. Normally a valve system in the leg veins and the pumping action of the foot muscles slowly push the blood back up to the heart.
But these valves can malfunction as you get older, after pregnancy, with prolonged standing and weight gain. By lying flat with your legs elevated above your heart, gravity can work in your favor by returning the blood back to your heart. This keeps the blood flowing, rather than stationary. You only need to slightly elevate the legs with one or two pillows at most when lying flat.
Gently Massage Around The Ankles
Gentle but firm movement on the skin over the ankles can help to move blood and relax tight muscles. Massage is also known to provide slight relief for superficial pain by blocking the pain pathway. Therefore massage can be helpful for ankle pain along with heat. However, if you have an acute ankle injury then it is best to avoid massage and rather use ice for 2 to 3 days.
Strengthening and improving the flexibility of the joint can be useful in preventing ankle pain. Try not to manipulate the ankle joint too much. A deep and hard massage may not be more helpful. In fact it can do more harm than good. Ideally you should speak to a physical therapist who can treat you and advise you on the appropriate exercises to help with ankle pain.