Maybe you live an active lifestyle. At some point, you might injure your ankle without even realizing it. Sometimes sudden ankle pain without injury is simply caused by overuse and wear and tear.
This is particularly common in hikers and runners who put their legs and feet to continual use and stress.
Other conditions could be responsible for your ankle pain, such as nerve damage, a ruptured tendon, infection, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis.
Why Does Sudden Ankle Pain Without Injury Occur and Hurt for No Reason at All?
It will depend on the cause. It could even be from injuries to the muscles, bones, and soft tissue that support the ankle. You might experience sharp, shooting pains or a dull ache, with swelling as well.
Just general sprains and strains can cause ankle pain, which you can treat at home. But you need to see a doctor if the pain is affecting your daily life. There are so many reasons why you might start experiencing sudden ankle pain without injury. Let’s look at some causes:
- Achilles tendon rupture: Did you know that some antibiotics can increase the risk of an Achilles tendon rupture?
- Ankle fracture: Your tibia or fibula could have fractured, and you might have difficulty walking. Surgery is not always necessary.
- Spraining or straining your ankle: This is when you overstretch or tear your ligaments. The ankles are a very common area for strains and sprains with all the movement they receive. Usually, sprains and strains occur from playing sports or running.
- Gout: Sudden ankle pain causes can be due to gout. This can be pretty painful. Our foot, ankle, and big toe will be sore.
- Infection: If you have cut yourself or suffered trauma or surgery, bacteria can enter the skin or the joint around your ankle and cause infection. Antibiotics would be necessary to ensure the infection doesn’t get worse.
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis: These conditions can be other sudden ankle pain causes.
- Flatfoot disorder: When you have flat feet or fallen arches, it usually affects one foot. Unfortunately, flatfoot can deteriorate over time, causing ankle pain with no swelling. However, it can be corrected using nonsurgical treatments.
Causes of Sudden Ankle Pain Without Injury
Apart from obvious injury, we have 5 common causes of ankle pain:
1. Achilles tendinopathy
Sudden ankle pain causes can happen from Achilles tendinopathy – from damage or inflammation in the tendon that runs from the calf to the heel bone.
The tendons are strong cords connecting the muscles to bones. They support the structure and movement of your feet and ankles.
The main symptoms of this condition are pain, difficulty moving the foot, swelling, a lump on the tendon, etc. Usually, it affects people who do sports. Perhaps they have inflammatory arthritis, or they have low or high arches.
They feel ankle pain when walking. There are treatments, but it can take a few months to recover from this pain.
2. Plantar fasciitis
If you have plantar fasciitis, you will feel pain in the inside and center part of your heel.
It is usually caused by damage to the band of tissue called the plantar fascia. This runs from the heel to the base of the toes.
It has the important job of supporting the arch. It helps to spread weight evenly through your foot, so you can walk, run, or stand without difficulty.
If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, you’ll observe ankle pain with no swelling, and it is difficult and painful to use your foot. Plantar fasciitis can take a long time to recover.
3. Tibialis posterior dysfunction
Sudden painful ankle causes can produce weakness in the ankle or heel. It can also cause the arch of the foot to drop.
Sometimes, ankle pain when walking and standing for long times becomes difficult. Tibialis posterior dysfunction is caused by inflammation or weakness and damage, causing the tendon to overstretch.
If it worsens, it can cause the arch of the foot to collapse. If the pain doesn’t improve over a couple of weeks, you will need to see a professional.
4. Bursitis in the foot or ankle
Bursitis causes inflammation and pain around the working joints like the ball of the foot, the big toe, the ankle, and the heel. If you always wear shoes that rub or press against your ankle or heel, you can get bursitis.
You could also experience ankle pain when walking. You might feel a lump in the area that is red, painful, and swollen. Even rheumatoid arthritis can cause bursitis, particularly in the ball of your foot.
5. Ankle sprain
If you get a sprain, for instance, you may experience ankle pain when walking. It means you have damaged the ligaments. It is easy to sprain the ankle when it is used so much.
Sometimes, mild to moderate sprains will require surgery. It is best to treat a sprained ankle because if left untreated, further complications can occur, such as unstable joints, chronic pain, arthritis, and even injury to the other ankle.
Your doctor will let you know if it is a severe sprain or something you can treat yourself with at home.
Other causes of sudden ankle pain without injury can be from:
- Changes in the shape of your arch
- CLow arches
- CHigh arches
- CAnkle arthritis
Treatments for Ankle Pain
- See a doctor – If your sudden ankle pain without injury gets worse, and you decide to consult with a doctor, he will do a physical examination of your ankle and foot to see what changes he can see. He might conduct further tests, such as X-rays, MRI scans or CT scans, blood tests, etc.
- Home remedies – Using the RICE Method
Rest: Resting the ankle allows it to heal
Ice: Applying ice minimizes swelling
Compression brace: A brace helps to minimize swelling and provides support
Elevation: Elevate the ankle on several pillows to promote blood flow and fluid toward the heart
Over-the-Counter Medications – Your doctor might tell you the names of reliable anti-inflammatory OTC meds. He might recommend orthotic insoles, which can help to support the feet and help with ankle pain with no swelling.
Some of these orthotic insoles may help those with gout and rheumatoid arthritis, among other medical conditions.
Medical Treatment – If your doctor lets you know that your ankle pain is more severe than you thought it was, he might prescribe a brace or a cast to wear on your foot. It will keep your ankle still to avoid a lot of movement.
Some people are even given crutches to use to keep the weight off their ankles. If your sprain is severe, you will have check-ups to see if it is healing well. He will let you know if you need further physical therapy to help your ankle with flexibility and strength.
- Exercises – Stretches might be just what your ankle pain with no swelling would thrive on. There are wonderful stretching exercises that can help because they will work on flexibility as well as ease discomfort. Just check with your doctor before you try any exercises for your ankle. Remember it is also important to warm up the ankle before exercising, like 5 minutes of low impact exercises.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ankle osteoarthritis can cause the ankles to become stiff and painful when you are sleeping. If you have shooting pain in your ankle or foot first thing in the morning, you probably have plantar fasciitis.
The most common reasons are arthritis, injury, and general wear and tear. Ankle pain that suddenly arrives can get treated with ice packs, rest, and over-the-counter pain medication.
See RICE above. If the pain lasts for longer than 2 weeks, you would need to see a doctor.
It could be because you have gout, osteoarthritis, or peripheral neuropathy. Investigate each one and get the right treatment for why you are experiencing sudden ankle pain.
There are certainly many sudden ankle pain causes that could occur, whether from injury or medical conditions that can cause a person’s ankle to hurt.