Your ankle bone and the ends of your two lower leg bones make up the ankle joint. Your ligaments, which connect bones to one another, stabilize and support it. Your muscles and tendons move it.
The most common ankle problems are sprains and fractures. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments. It may take a few weeks to many months to heal completely. A fracture is a break in a bone. You can also injure other parts of the ankle such as tendons, which join muscles to bone, and cartilage, which cushions your joints. Ankle sprains and fractures are common sports injuries.
You might feel the pain on the inside or outside of your ankle or along the Achilles tendon, which connects the muscles in your lower leg to your heel bone. Although mild ankle pain often responds well to home treatments, it can take time to resolve. You should see your doctor for severe ankle pain, especially if it follows an injury.
For many ankle injuries, self-care measures ease the pain. Examples include:
- Rest. Keep weight off your ankle as much as possible. Take a break from your normal activities.
- Ice. Place an ice pack or bag of frozen peas on your ankle for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day.
- Compression. Use a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
- Elevation. Elevate your foot above the level of your heart to help reduce swelling.
- Over-the-counter pain medications. Drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) can ease pain and aid healing.
Even with the best of care, you may have some ankle swelling, stiffness or pain, particularly first thing in the morning or after you’ve been active, for several weeks.