There are many reasons you could be experiencing pain on the inside of your ankle, known in medical terms as the medial ankle. Anything from overuse strains to very serious conditions can cause stiffness, soreness, joint deformity, and pain. The ankle is a remarkably complex connection of bone, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels and when any part is damaged, pain may be felt throughout the entire region, including the foot and lower leg.
These are the most common reasons for pain on the inside of your ankle.
Sprain or soft tissue damage
A sprain is usually pretty obvious – significant pain, instability, and bruising usually accompany it. But patients are frequently unaware of minor soft tissue damage, especially women who spend lots of time walking in high heels. It’s easy to roll your foot while stepping off a city curb and keep going about your business. But that seemingly insignificant roll can cause significant damage to the soft tissue that surrounds the ankle. Later in the day – or even days later – it may become red, slightly swollen, feel unstable, and may be tender or painful when you put weight on it.
Don’t ignore minor pain in your ankle. It should be treated by a podiatrist to avoid repeat injuries, which lead to a weakening of the tissue surrounding the ankle and arthritis. Until your appointment, rest and elevate the ankle, use ice if swollen, and control the pain with over the counter meds like advil or aleve.
A stress fracture is a serious injury which requires attention from a podiatrist to stabilize the bone and heal it correctly. Stress fracture symptoms will include soreness in the ankle, swelling, instability, and pain that may radiate through the entire foot. These symptoms will worsen as you put weight on your ankle.
This one is usually pretty obvious. Pain will be intense and a joint deformity is usually visible. Numbness, tingling, instability, inability to bear weight, swelling, redness, and bruising may all accompany a broken ankle. It’s essential that you have a broken ankle set correctly by a podiatrist to avoid further complications and permanent instability.
An ankle with osteoarthritis may cause a minor ache or shooting pain and may be accompanied by swelling and redness. You may experience periods of stiffness, especially after long periods of rest or lots of activity. In the early stages of this disease, over the counter pain medicine may be helpful. But as osteoarthritis is degenerative, the symptoms will worsen with age, and will require attention from a podiatrist.
Read our post: How Your Ankle Works – a very complex joint
Although symptoms of RA are similar to those of osteoarthritis, the cause is different. RA is an autoimmune disease which usually starts in the small joints of the extremities. Early symptoms will include pain and stiffness, then swelling and joint deformity as the disease progresses. Generally, these symptoms will be felt not only in the ankle, but many other joints as well.
Posterior Tibial Tendonitis (PTT)
The Posterior Tibial Tendon travels along the inside of the ankle, just under the ankle bone. It attaches your calf muscle to the bones on the inside of your foot. A sudden injury or overuse can inflame this tendon, weaken it, and ultimately cause the arch of the foot to fall. Pain is felt along the path of the tendon on the inside of the ankle, which may be accompanied by swelling. With activity, the pain will become worse, making standing for a long period of time unendurable. Running will be very difficult. If left untreated, the arch of the foot may collapse, and the heel bone will shift in an outward position.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
The tarsal tunnel is a dense band of fibrous tissue which holds the tibial nerve and arteries. It runs along the inner leg and behind the bump on the inside of the ankle. If the tibial nerve becomes pinched, pain may be felt along the inside of the ankle all the way to the toes, and sometimes through the lower leg. This is a very serious condition which should be treated by a podiatrist to alleviate the problem causing the pinched nerve.
If you suspect that you may have any of these injuries, rest and elevate your ankle, use ice if swollen or red, and use over the counter medicines like advil or aleve to control the pain. Call the podiatrists at PA Foot and Ankle Associates for an immediate examination so that we can make a proper diagnosis and heal your injury as quickly as possible.