Conservative Treatment Options for Ankle Pain and Swelling

Posted on: 25 August 2022

Ankle pain and swelling can be caused by degenerative joint conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, injuries, standing on your feet all day, and even poor circulation. Before your doctor recommends a treatment protocol, you will need a comprehensive podiatry examination. After your examination, which may include x-rays, a podiatrist (a doctor specializing in foot and ankle conditions) will recommend a treatment plan that may include the following interventions.

Physical Therapy and Massage

Your podiatry specialist may recommend physical therapy to help reduce your pain, decrease inflammation, and restore mobility to your ankle. Physical therapy helps improve blood flow and circulation to damaged joints, muscles, and tendons, and can help improve your ankle range of motion.

It is important to note, that while physical therapy may dramatically improve your symptoms, it may take multiple sessions before you are completely symptom-free. To augment the benefits of physical therapy, your therapist may recommend therapeutic massage to further enhance circulation, relieve pain, and reduce ankle swelling.

OTC Pain Relievers

Your podiatrist may also recommend over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. These may include acetaminophen, naproxen, and ibuprofen. While the latter OTC pain relievers are effective in relieving both pain and inflammation, acetaminophen is only effective in reducing pain. You shouldn't take it for joint inflammation because it is not classified as an anti-inflammatory drug.

If you are unable to take ibuprofen or naproxen for your ankle pain and swelling, then acetaminophen may be an appropriate option. Anti-inflammatory drugs are generally tolerated well, however, they can cause stomach upset and fluid retention in certain people. 

Dietary Interventions

Your ankle pain and swelling may be related to gout, which is a type of arthritis. Gout is associated with elevated levels of uric acid in your blood and while gout most commonly affects the joints of your big toes, it can affect any joint.

Avoiding foods high in purines can help relieve your joint pain, as can taking prescription medications to help lower serum uric acid levels. Foods to avoid that are high in purines include tuna, herring, bacon, and beef, and beverages such as those containing alcohol. Drinks high in sugar and organ meats should also be avoided in those who have gout.

If you develop ankle pain and swelling, make an appointment with a podiatry practice. After they examine your ankles and feet, they will recommend a plan of care to help treat your symptoms so that you can better enjoy your daily activities.