4 signs it’s time to see a PT for pain in the back of your ankle

Ankle pain can be a frustrating symptom, especially when it persists for an extended period of time. The pain in your ankle can lead to chronic discomfort that makes it more difficult to go about your day. Pain can occur in many areas of the ankle, including the back. Pain felt around the rear part of the ankle can have many causes, including a new injury or a chronic condition. One of the most common causes is posterior ankle impingement. This condition occurs after the back of the ankle is forced to flex in an unnatural way. Forced plantar flexion might happen when engaging the back of your ankle in an activity such as kicking or dancing. Running on uneven surfaces can also cause this kind of pain. Though posterior ankle impingement is a common cause, it is not the only possible reason for the pain around the back of your ankle. Going to a physical therapist can help you identify the source of your pain and start receiving treatment.


When do you know it’s time to see a physical therapist? The best way to ensure that you act at the right time is to be vigilant about your symptoms. If you start to notice new issues that hinder your daily functioning, you should seek professional treatment. For many conditions, intervening early can have a major beneficial impact. For this reason, professionals often recommend seeking treatment as soon as possible. If you are still uncertain whether you should see a physical therapist yet, it can help to learn more about the signs of serious underlying issues.


Signs you should seek PT treatment for your back-of-ankle pain

  • Persistent pain — Is the pain around the back of your ankle not going away? Chronic pain can be a major indicator that your condition requires treatment. Some mild ankle injuries can heal without PT. If your pain is relatively mild and fades quickly with rest, you may not need to seek treatment. An injury that continues to cause pain is likely more serious. Chronic pain may be a sign of a deeper underlying condition that cannot be managed with rest alone. To address your pain and keep your recovery time to a minimum, seeking physical therapy can be crucial. Short-term treatments like pain relief medications can help for a brief time, but a long-term solution like PT can be necessary to experience lasting relief.

  • Noticeable swelling — Swelling around the back of your ankle could be a sign of a serious injury or other condition. A physical therapist can evaluate the extent of your swelling and provide effective anti-inflammatory treatments. Swelling around the ankle tends to lead to other issues including tenderness and increased pain. Having a swollen ankle can also make movement more difficult. When swelling becomes very intense, it can restrict your mobility, preventing you from getting around normally. PT can prevent these issues by addressing the core cause of your swelling.

  • Numbness or tingling — Is your ankle numb or tingling? Numbness and tingling sensations are key symptoms of nerve damage. At the ankle, one of the most common nerve issues is tarsal tunnel syndrome. Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition involving the compression of the tibial nerve that runs through the ankle. When this nerve is pinched, you might experience numbness, tingling and nerve pain throughout your foot and ankle. The symptoms are often centered around the bottom of the foot. If you have a nerve issue, treatment is essential. A physical therapist can help manage your tarsal tunnel syndrome with targeted exercises and hands-on treatment.

  • Lack of improvement — Sometimes ankle pain goes away naturally. If the cause of your pain is not a major injury, the damage may heal on its own. If you do not notice any improvement over time, though, it may be time to take a more active approach. Physical therapy can help you get on the path to recovery, offering solutions designed to manage your symptoms and accelerate your healing.


Back-of-ankle pain above the heel


Not sure what’s causing your ankle pain? Narrowing down potential causes can help you get a better idea of your condition. Identifying the area where your pain is located can be a good step in this process. Ankle pain does not always radiate from the exact same place. Depending on your condition, you might experience pain coming from the front of your ankle or the back. You may also notice the pain coming from below or above the heel. Is your pain specifically localized around the back of your ankle above the heel? If it is, the cause is likely an issue with your Achilles tendon. A comprehensive PT assessment can be a great way to accurately identify the problem.


A common cause of pain in the back of the ankle above the heel is Achilles tendinitis. Tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendons. When the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed, it can lead to swelling and persistent ankle pain. If you have Achilles tendinitis, proper treatment is important. Your physical therapist can work with you to develop a treatment plan designed to alleviate your pain and help you make a rapid recovery.


How to treat back-of-ankle pain


Ready to address your ankle pain? If you are looking for an effective route to pain relief, physical therapy is an excellent option. Physical therapy offers a comprehensive approach to care. By addressing the root cause of your pain, physical therapy can lead you to long-term relief. Here are some of the top PT methods for addressing painful ankle issues:

  • Tailored exercise — Exercise is a core part of physical therapy. Based on your needs and wellness goals, your physical therapist will develop an exercise plan that works for you. The best PT exercises for ankle pain will help address your weaknesses and improve your flexibility. Exercise can also enhance your overall ankle function, empowering you to overcome limitations caused by your condition. If inflammation is causing ankle stiffness, for example, your physical therapist can guide you through stretches to improve your range of motion. By building your strength and flexibility, you can work to address the issues that are causing your ankle pain.

  • Manual therapy — Looking for hands-on pain relief treatment? Manual therapy may be the answer to your problems. With manual therapy, a physical therapist uses their hands to massage and mobilize painful tissue. There are a range of manual therapy techniques that can be used to address ankle pain. These include joint mobilization and soft tissue manipulation. With manual therapy integrated into your treatment plan, you can optimize your progress toward improved mobility and lasting pain relief.

  • Kinesiology taping — Kinesiology taping is a physical therapy modality that can be highly effective for pain relief. By applying specialized tape to the area affected by your painful condition, you can improve circulation and reduce swelling. Kinesiology taping is often used to treat sports injuries and other kinds of tissue damage. The tape can help support injured tissue, allowing it to heal more quickly. If an injury in the back of your ankle is causing you discomfort, kinesiology taping could be a great solution.


Lattimore Physical Therapy can help address the pain in the back of your ankle


Looking for a physical therapy provider to treat your ankle pain? At Lattimore Physical Therapy, we are committed to helping each patient experience relief that lasts. With the help of our expert team and a tailored treatment plan, you can work toward recovery.


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

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