There are lots of causes of ankle pain. You can usually ease the pain yourself. But see a GP if the pain does not improve.
How you can ease ankle pain yourself
If you see a GP about ankle pain, they'll usually suggest you try these things:
rest and raise your ankle when you can
put an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a towel on your ankle for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
wear wide comfortable shoes with a low heel and soft sole
use soft insoles or heel pads in your shoes
wrap a bandage around your ankle to support it
try regular gentle stretching exercises
do not take ibuprofen for the first 48 hours after an injury
do not walk or stand for long periods
do not wear high heels or tight pointy shoes
You can ask a pharmacist about:
- the best painkiller to take
- insoles and pads for your shoes
- if you need to see a GP
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- ankle pain is stopping you doing normal activities
- the pain is getting worse or keeps coming back
- the pain has not improved after treating it at home for 2 weeks
- you have any tingling or loss of sensation in your foot
- you have diabetes and foot pain – foot problems can be more serious if you have diabetes
Immediate action required: Go to an urgent treatment centre or A&E if you:
- have severe ankle pain
- feel faint, dizzy or sick from the pain
- have an ankle or foot that has changed shape or is at an odd angle
- heard a snap, grinding or popping noise at the time of injury
- are not able to walk
These might be signs of a broken ankle.
What we mean by severe pain
- Severe pain:
- always there and so bad it's hard to think or talk
- you cannot sleep
- it's very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress
- Moderate pain:
- always there
- makes it hard to concentrate or sleep
- you can manage to get up, wash or dress
- Mild pain:
- comes and goes
- is annoying but does not stop you doing things like going to work
Common causes of ankle pain
Ankle pain is often caused by exercising too much or wearing shoes that are too tight.
Your symptoms might also give you an idea of what's causing your ankle pain.
|Pain, swelling, bruising, started after intense or repetitive exercise||Sprained ankle|
|Pain in ankle and heel, pain in calf when standing on tiptoes||Achilles tendonitis|
|Redness and swelling, dull aching pain||Bursitis|
|Sudden sharp pain, swelling, a popping or snapping sound during the injury, difficulty walking, ankle at odd angle||Broken ankle|
Do not worry if you're not sure what the problem is.
Follow the advice on this page and see a GP if the pain does not get better in 2 weeks.
You can also read about pain in other areas of your foot.
Page last reviewed: 1 April 2019
Next review due: 1 April 2022