4 reasons for ankle pain with no swelling

A fairly common condition is ankle pain: About 9% to 15% of adults have it. Many people experience both ankle pain and swelling together. Noticeable swelling occurs when soft tissue such as muscles and ligaments are injured, such as when you sprain an ankle. However, since your ankle contains more than just soft tissue, you can have ankle pain with either unnoticeable swelling or no swelling at all.

Ankle pain that is chronic or persistent can reduce the quality of your life by impacting your daily activities. For example, you may not be able to go on a run, walk your dog, or shop at a grocery store. Given the potential for chronic ankle pain to reduce your quality of life, it is important to discuss possible causes of ankle pain and some treatments for it.

4 reasons that you may have ankle pain but no swelling 

As mentioned earlier, you may experience ankle pain without no swelling. Here are some possible causes of ankle pain with no swelling:

  • Osteoarthritis — Osteoarthritis is most common among people at least 50 years old. This condition is caused by the cartilage in the ankle breaking down over time. This breakdown causes the bones to rub together, producing ankle pain. You may feel high levels of pain in the morning or if your ankle has remained in one position for a long period. Still, osteoarthritis may produce ankle pain with no swelling.
  • Joint instability — If you sprain your ankle, the supporting tissue around it may weaken. This supporting tissue includes muscles, tendons and ligaments. Weak supporting tissue in the ankle reduces your ability to balance, which can produce slight ankle pain with no swelling.
  • Achilles tendinitis — About 18% of adults have an Achilles tendon disorder. The Achilles tendon extends from calf muscles to the heel. If you overuse your calf muscles, you may experience ankle pain with no swelling. You are more likely to have this condition if you are an athlete and/or like to run.
  • Peripheral neuropathy — If the nerves in your ankle or feet are damaged, you may experience ankle pain with no swelling. This condition is known as peripheral neuropathy. If you have diabetes, a viral infection or an autoimmune disease, you may be more likely to experience peripheral neuropathy.

Your physical therapist may ask you to get an MRI of your affected ankle. An MRI allows your physical therapist to identify the specific cause of your ankle pain and symptoms. Once this is identified, your physical therapist can work with you to form a personalized treatment plan.

3 PT treatments that can help address ankle pain 

To help address ankle pain (with or without swelling), your physical therapist may recommend the following physical therapy techniques:

  • Manual therapy — Some manual therapy techniques that physical therapists offer include soft tissue manipulation and joint mobilization. With soft tissue manipulation, your therapist can reduce any swelling in your ankle. With joint mobilization, they can help improve the function and mobility of your ankle. If it is easier for you to move your ankle, you may feel more comfortable when doing daily activities such as walking and running.
  • Aquatic therapy In aquatic therapy, your physical therapist will guide you through exercises in a heated pool. The water in the pool helps hold you up and can reduce the weight on your ankle, which should make it easier for you to do the exercises. Also, the hydrostatic pressure of the water pushes against your body, which can reduce any swelling of your ankle. As physical therapists maintain aquatic pools at a warm temperature, you may experience more blood flow to your ankle, which can make it easier for it to heal if injured. 
  • Active exercises — Another physical therapy modality that can help treat your ankle pain is active exercise. The goal of active ankle exercises are to increase the strength of your ankle-supporting muscles. In turn, stronger ankle muscles can better support your ankle joint, which can reduce the pressure on it as you’re walking and sitting down.

Lattimore PT can help treat your ankle pain 

Need treatment for your ankle pain? At Lattimore PT, our team values compassion, friendliness and high-quality patient care. Our hands-on approach to physical therapy involves our licensed physical therapists listening to you to meet your needs. To treat ankle pain, we offer services such as aquatic therapy and manual therapy. A physical therapist will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan with the physical therapy techniques most relevant to your ankle pain.

Contact our team today for more information about ankle pain or to schedule an initial appointment.

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