Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain

Chronic lateral ankle pain is an ongoing or recurring pain that develops in the outer side of the ankle from a prior ankle injury that has not healed well. It may develop in cases of sprains, fractures, nerve injury, torn tendons, arthritis, inflammation of the joint lining (synovium) or scar tissue in the ankle region.

The pain is usually intense or may be a dull ache, preventing you from walking or participating in sports. There may be stiffness, swelling, tenderness and buckling of the ankle, causing further injury.

When you present to your doctor’s office with lateral ankle pain, a thorough medical history of previous injuries and treatments, and physical examination is performed to identify the cause of the pain. Tests may be performed to examine nerve sensation. A local anesthetic injection may help your doctor identify the source of the pain. X-rays, CT or MRI scans of both your ankles may be obtained for comparison.

Chronic lateral ankle pain may be treated by conservative means such as anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, ankle braces, physical therapy or immobilization in case of fractures. Surgery may be recommended to treat some cases of chronic lateral pain. This includes cleaning the joint surfaces, removing loose fragments, and reconstructing or repairing damaged tendons and ligaments.