Ankle Problems

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Follow this chart for more information about problems that can cause ankle pain.

SYMPTOMS DIAGNOSIS SELF-CARE
Begin Here

1. Did you begin to have pain or swelling after a fall or a twisting injury or after the ankle was hit?


No

Go to Question 4.*

Yes

2. Is there significant swelling and is the pain so intense you're unable to walk on the ankle?


Yes

You may have a FRACTURE or a severe SPRAIN.

Don't walk on the injured foot. Raise the leg and place ice on the swollen area. See your doctor promptly.

No

3. Is there swelling and a bruise, but you're still able to walk on the ankle?


Yes

You may have a SPRAINED ANKLE, or a FRACTURE of the FIBULA.

Use ice, elevation, rest and an elastic bandage to keep the swelling under control. See your doctor if the swelling and pain continue.

No

*4. Do you have swelling, stiffness (especially in the morning) or pain that comes and goes in both ankles ?


Yes

You may have RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS.

See your doctor. He or she can prescribe medicine to help control the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

No

5. Do you have a fever, or is more than one joint swollen and red?


Yes

Fever along with a painful, swollen joint could be caused by an INFECTED JOINT. More than one affected joint could mean RHEUMATIC FEVER.

URGENT
SEE YOUR DOCTOR RIGHT AWAY.

No

6. Did the pain come on suddenly, or does clothing or bedding that rubs against the joint cause pain?


Yes

You may have GOUT (inflammation caused by high uric acid level in the blood).

See your doctor. During a gout attack, you should rest in bed. You can put a hot pad or an ice pack on your ankle to ease the pain.

No

7. Do you usually feel pain before or during a change in the weather, or are you experiencing swelling, stiffness and pain that gets worse during or after use of your ankle?


Yes

These symptoms could be caused by OSTEOARTHRITIS, also called DEGENERATIVE JOINT DISEASE, or by previous trauma to the ankle.

See your doctor. Use heat and an anti-inflammatory medicine to relieve discomfort.

No

For more information, please talk to your doctor. If you think your problem is serious, call right away.

This tool has been reviewed by doctors and is for general educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice. The information in this tool should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health. Always consult your family doctor with questions about your individual condition(s) and/or circumstances. Source: American Academy of Family Physicians. Family Health & Medical Guide. Dallas: Word Publishing; 1996.

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