Ankle and Foot Pain

The ankle joint is an important joint which helps us to walk. The joint is made up of bones, ligaments and muscles. 

As in all joints, smooth cartilage covers the end of bones to reduce friction.

The ankle ligaments and capsule (the bag that surrounds the joint), prevent the bones moving in the wrong direction. The muscles surrounding the ankle also help to hold the joint in place and produce movement.

Problems with ankles and feet are common. See below for information on conditions/self help. 

Common Ankle / Foot problems

Ankle Sprain


The ankle joint is supported on the outside and inside by strong ligaments. These ligaments help to provide stability and reduce unwanted movement. If you land on your ankle in an awkward position, you may cause these ligaments to over-stretch.

You may experience the following:

  • Swelling and warmth around the ankle

  • Bruising/Discolouration

  • Pain on weightbearing

  • Lack of movement

Things you can do to help yourself:
  • Protection: During the first few days after an injury, you should rest the injured joint. After 72 hours, gentle movement can be started. If walking is difficult or painful, a stick or crutch may help.
  • Although it might be painful, it is important to maintain movement in your ankle to avoid stiffness. Complete non-weightbearing rest is rarely useful.
  • Ice: Applying ice with gentle compression using a bandage may help with pain relief and reducing swelling around your ankle. Click here to download an information sheet
  • Elevation: Placing the ankle higher than your hip whilst lying or sitting will help the swelling reduce.
  • Use of over the counter pain relief if necessary to enable to keep mobile. (Speak to your local Pharmacist if you are unsure about what you can take
  • If your ankle does not settle within 2-3 weeks or you are concerned then seek further advice from a health professional. In some cases, following an indepth examination, further investigation maybe necessary to decide on the best treatment plan.




Achillies Inflammation / Tendinopathy


The Achilles tendon attaches muscles of the calf to the heel bone. It allows you to lift your heel off the floor to walk. Achilles Tendinopathy or ‘tendinitis’ is one of the most common causes of Achilles tendon pain. It is commonly injured when you exercise the ankle too much over a short space of time, often after a period of inactivity. The main symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy are

  • Pain around the back of the ankle (it may also be sore to touch)
  • Stiffness or swelling around the back of the joint
  • Difficulty or pain to walk
There are a number of things you can try to help Achilles tendinopathy:
  • Reduce your activity level to a point that does not increase your pain
  • Take pain relief (Seek help from a local Pharmacist if you are unsure what to take)
  • An ice pack may help to reduce the pain and swelling ( click here for more infomation)
We recommend the information pack from Oxford Universities Hospitals for exercises you can do to manage this. Click here to view. Alternativlty you can download a simlplified exercse sheet here




Plantarfasciitis


Plantarfasciitis can cause pain around the heel bone and further down the foot towards the base of the toes. The pain is often worse first thing on a morning or following a long time of inactivity. It is mainy caused by poor foot positioning or repetitive activity.

Plantarfasciitis referes to inflammation of the plantar fascia. This is a thick band of connective tissue which starts at the heel bone and ends towards the toes.

You may experience:

  • Pain or tenderness in the heel or arch of the foot
  • Pain that is often worse first thing on a morning or following a long time of inactivity
  • Walking short distances may help but longer distances may increase the symptoms
  • Pain when stretching the sole of the foot such as going up on your toes or upstairs
  • Pain with standing for long periods or when wearing flat, unsupportive shoes
How is it diagnosed? Diagnosis is usually made from the patient's history and a simple examination. Further investigation or imaging is rarely required.

There are ways to try and self-manage Plantarfasciitis:

  • Pain relief - Speak to your local Pharmacy if you are unsure what to take.
  • An ice pack under the heel may help to reduce pain (Click here to download information)
  • Wear shoes with good support
  • Gentle stretching
You can downloan an exercise sheet here





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Harrogate & District NHS Foundation Trust, Lancaster Park Road, Harrogate, HG1 7 SX