Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain

Chronic lateral ankle pain is recurring or chronic pain on the outside part of the ankle that often develops after an injury such as a sprained ankle. Other conditions, however, may also cause chronic ankle pain.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Ankle instability.
  • Difficulty walking on uneven ground or in high heels.
  • Pain, sometimes intense, on the outer side of the ankle.
  • Repeated ankle sprains.
  • Stiffness.
  • Swelling.
  • Tenderness.

While ankle sprains are the most common cause of chronic lateral ankle pain, other causes may include:

  • A fracture in one of the bones that make up the ankle joint.
  • Arthritis of the ankle joint.
  • Inflammation of the joint lining.
  • Injury to the nerves that pass through the ankle. In this case, the nerves become stretched, torn, injured by a direct blow, or pinched under pressure.
  • Scar tissue in the ankle after a sprain. The scar tissue takes up space in the joint, putting pressure on the ligaments.
  • Torn or inflamed tendon.

Treatments for chronic lateral ankle pain include:

  • Over the counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling. Consult your physician before taking any medications.
  • Physical therapy, including tilt-board exercises, directed at strengthening the muscles, restoring range of motion, and increasing your perception of joint position.
  • Ankle braces or other supports.
  • Steroid medication.
  • Immobilization to allow the bone to heel (in cases of fractures).