Ankle Problems

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

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Did you begin to have pain and/or swelling after the ankle was hit or after a fall or a twisting injury?  

  • Is the ankle significantly swollen, and is the pain so intense that you can’t put weight on that foot?

  • Is the ankle swollen and bruised, and can you still put weight on that foot?

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

  • Do you have a fever, and is one or more of your joints painful, swollen, and red?

  • Did the pain start suddenly, and is it painful when clothing or bedding rubs against your ankle?

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

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • Diagnosis

    You may have a FRACTURE or a severe SPRAIN.


    Self Care

    See your doctor promptly. Don’t put weight on the injured ankle.

    Raise the ankle above your heart while sitting or lying down. Use a compression wrap to help control swelling. Place an ice pack wrapped in a thin, damp cloth on the swollen area. You can also consider using a soft compression brace and crutches.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a SPRAINED ANKLE or a FRACTURE OF THE FIBULA.


    Self Care

    Raise the ankle above your heart while sitting or lying down. Use a compression wrap to help control swelling. Place an ice pack wrapped in a thin, damp cloth on the swollen area. You can also consider using a soft compression brace and crutches.

    See your doctor if the swelling and pain continue.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS or OSTEOARTHRITIS (also called DEGENERATIVE JOINT DISEASE).


    Self Care

    See your doctor. He or she can treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis with a combination of therapies.


  • Diagnosis

    Fever and a painful, red, swollen joint may be caused by an INFECTED JOINT (also called SEPTIC ARTHRITIS). More than one affected joint may be caused by RHEUMATIC FEVER.


    Self Care

    URGENT

    SEE YOUR DOCTOR RIGHT AWAY.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have GOUT (swelling and pain caused by too much uric acid in your body).


    Self Care

    See your doctor. During a gout attack (also called a flare), rest in bed until the pain eases up. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a thin, damp cloth to your ankle. Drink extra water to help flush uric acid from your body.

    Avoid alcohol and high-fat foods. They can trigger gout attacks.


  • Diagnosis

    These symptoms may be caused by OSTEOARTHRITIS (also called DEGENERATIVE JOINT DISEASE). Previous surgery or trauma to the ankle can also cause these symptoms.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. If you have osteoarthritis, he or she can treat your symptoms with a combination of therapies.

    Relieve your symptoms by applying a heating pad or an ice pack wrapped in a thin, damp cloth to your ankle. Use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease the pain.


  • Self Care

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


Family Doctor Logo American Academy of Family Physicians Logo

Advertisement