Dealing with Back of Ankle Pain: Causes, Solutions, and Prevention

Dealing with Back of Ankle Pain: Causes, Solutions, and Prevention

In today’s increasingly active and fast-paced world, discomfort and pain in the back of the ankle have emerged as a common issue affecting people across various age groups. In this blog post, we dive deep into the possible causes and remedies for pain in the back of the ankle. We will also explore preventative measures to help you keep your ankles healthy and pain-free.

What Causes of Back of Ankle Pain?

What Causes of Back of Ankle Pain?The back of the ankle pain can be experienced due to a variety of reasons, often stemming from either acute injuries or chronic conditions:

  • Achilles Tendinitis

This is an overuse injury of the Achilles (the large tendon located at the back of the ankle). Achilles tendinitis is common in runners. Especially those who have suddenly increased the intensity or duration of their runs.

  • Achilles Tendon Rupture

This injury typically involves a sudden, sharp pain in the back of the ankle, often caused by sudden accelerations in sports like soccer or tennis. A rupture often results in severe pain and inability to walk properly.

  • Ankle Sprain

This is a common injury caused by turning or twisting your ankle in an awkward way. It can stretch or tear the ligaments that help hold your ankle bones together.

  • Arthritis

Conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout can cause pain in various joints in the body, including the ankle. This pain is usually chronic and may worsen over time.

  • Bursitis

This condition occurs when the small fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that cushion bones, tendons, and muscles near your joints become inflamed. Bursitis in the ankle can lead to pain in the back of the ankle.

  • Posterior Ankle Impingement

This condition occurs when the soft tissue at the back of the ankle gets pinched. It’s often seen in dancers or those who regularly move their ankles into a pointed-toe position.

  • Peripheral Neuropathy

Conditions such as diabetes can damage peripheral nerves, leading to pain, weakness, or numbness, commonly in the feet and ankles.

It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider to get a proper diagnosis if you’re experiencing persistent pain in the back of your ankle. They can help identify the exact cause of your pain and guide you toward an appropriate treatment plan.

How Do You Treat Back Of Ankle Pain?

The treatment for pain in the back of the ankle depends on the underlying cause. Here are some general treatments for common causes of ankle pain:

Rest and Elevation

Rest and ElevationIf the pain in the back of your ankle is due to an injury, such as a sprain or strain, it’s crucial to rest the injured ankle to allow the body to begin the healing process. Try to avoid putting weight on the injured ankle, and if necessary, use crutches to help with mobility. Elevation can help to reduce swelling and speed up recovery.

This typically involves lying down and raising the affected ankle higher than the level of your heart. For example, while lying down, you can prop your foot up on some pillows. This helps to reduce blood flow to the area, which can minimize swelling and inflammation.

Ice Application

Applying an ice pack to the injured area can help numb the pain and reduce swelling. It’s generally recommended to apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, every 2 to 3 hours. Remember not to apply ice directly onto the skin. Instead, wrap the ice pack in a thin towel or cloth to prevent frostbite. This treatment is most effective in the first 24 to 48 hours following the injury.


Compression can also help to reduce swelling and provide additional support to the injured area. This can be done by wrapping an elastic bandage, such as an ACE bandage, around the ankle. The wrap should be snug but not so tight that it cuts off circulation. It’s generally recommended to start wrapping at the end farthest from your heart (like the foot) and work your way up. However, if the bandage causes numbness, tingling, increased pain, cool skin, or swelling in the area below the bandage, it’s too tight and should be loosened.

Pain Relief Medication

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help to reduce pain and inflammation. These medications work by blocking the production of certain chemicals in the body that cause inflammation. Remember to follow the dosage instructions on the bottle and never exceed the recommended dose unless instructed by a healthcare provider.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for a variety of conditions causing back of ankle pain. A physical therapist can guide you through exercises tailored to your specific condition to strengthen your muscles, enhance your balance, and increase flexibility in your ankle.

For instance, in Achilles tendinitis, you may perform calf muscle stretches and strengthening exercises. The goal of physical therapy is not only to alleviate current symptoms but also to prevent further injuries. The therapist might also advise on modifications in your physical activities or daily routine to protect your ankle.

Orthotic Devices

For certain causes of ankle pain, specifically, those related to foot structure or alignment, orthotic devices can provide significant relief. Orthotics are specially designed shoe inserts that can correct abnormal or irregular walking patterns, thus reducing pressure and pain in the ankles. They can be over-the-counter insoles or custom-made devices designed specifically for your foot.

Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle changes can play a crucial role in managing and preventing back of ankle pain. Being overweight, for instance, places extra stress on weight-bearing joints like the ankles. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce this stress. Incorporating regular exercise into your routine can also keep your joints flexible and your muscles strong. However, it’s important to choose low-impact exercises (like swimming or cycling) that do not place excessive stress on the ankles.


In severe cases or when conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgery may be necessary. The type of surgery will depend on the cause of the ankle pain. For instance, a torn Achilles tendon may require surgical repair. In the case of severe arthritis, ankle fusion or ankle replacement surgery might be recommended. Always remember that surgery is generally considered a last-resort treatment and involves potential risks and recovery time.

Always remember that these are general recommendations and the appropriate treatment should be determined by a healthcare professional based on your specific condition and overall health. If you’re experiencing severe or persistent ankle pain, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure proper treatment.

What Are Some Prevention Strategies?

What Are Some Prevention Strategies?Prevention is always better than cure, and when it comes to preventing pain in the back of the ankle, here are some effective strategies:

1. Regular Exercise and Stretching

Regularly engage in exercises that strengthen your ankles and improve your flexibility. This includes activities like heel drops, toe walks, calf raises, and ankle rolls. A well-conditioned body with flexible and strong muscles is less prone to injuries.

2. Warm Up and Cool Down

Always take time to warm up before exercising and cool down afterward. Warming up prepares your body for exercise by gradually increasing your heart rate and loosening your muscles, while cooling down allows your heart rate to return to its resting rate and can help prevent stiffness.

3. Wear the Right Footwear

The shoes you wear play a crucial role in supporting your ankles. Always wear footwear that is appropriate for the activity you’re engaging in, fits well, and provides good support. If necessary, consider using orthotics for additional support.

4. Avoid Overuse

Too much stress on the ankles can lead to injuries. Always listen to your body and avoid pushing beyond your limits. Make sure to rest and recover between workout sessions.

5. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Extra weight can put more stress on your ankles. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help to reduce this pressure.

6. Stay Hydrated

Adequate hydration is essential for overall health, including the health of your muscles and joints. Drinking enough water can help to prevent muscle cramps, which are common in the ankles.

7. Practice Good Posture

Good posture can prevent unnecessary stress on your ankles. This is especially important if you spend a lot of time standing or walking.

Remember, if you’ve had a previous ankle injury or are experiencing persistent pain. Then, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program.

How Long Does It Take For The Back Of Your Ankle To Heal?

Well, the healing time for back of ankle pain primarily depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the injury.

  • For minor injuries such as mild sprains or strains, recovery may take a few weeks with appropriate rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
  • More severe conditions, like a moderate to severe sprain or Achilles tendinitis, can take several weeks to a few months to heal with physical therapy and other conservative treatments.

If the injury is more significant, such as an Achilles tendon rupture or a severe case of arthritis, recovery may take several months and could require surgical intervention. In these cases, full recovery often involves post-surgical rehabilitation and physical therapy.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s healing process is different, and recovery times can vary. Consulting with a healthcare professional will provide the most accurate timeline for individual cases.


In conclusion, back of ankle pain can result from a myriad of conditions, ranging from mild sprains to severe tendon ruptures or chronic diseases like arthritis. It’s crucial to understand the symptoms and causes to seek appropriate treatment promptly. Rest, ice, compression, elevation, along with physical therapy and medication, are commonly used treatments.

While recovery times can vary based on the cause and severity of the injury, adhering to a healthcare professional’s advice can expedite the healing process and help ensure a successful recovery.

Physical Therapy helps patients recover from pain. If you’re experiencing Ankle, Back, Shoulder, Knee, Neck, Elbow, Hip, or Arthritis pain, a physical therapist at PhysioMantra can help: Book an online physical therapy session.