Why Does My Ankles Hurt When I Walk

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Why Does My Ankles Hurt When I Walk?

Walking is a natural and healthy activity that most people engage in daily. However, it can be quite frustrating and concerning when your ankles start to hurt during or after a walk. Ankle pain can be caused by various factors, ranging from minor issues to more serious conditions. In this article, we will explore some common reasons why your ankles may hurt when you walk and provide insights into how to alleviate the pain.

1. Sprained Ankles:
One of the most common causes of ankle pain is a sprain. This occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle are stretched or torn. Sprained ankles often result from twisting or rolling the ankle during physical activity, leading to pain, swelling, and difficulty walking.

2. Achilles Tendinitis:
Achilles tendinitis refers to the inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. This condition can cause ankle pain, especially during walking or running. People with tight calf muscles or those who suddenly increase their exercise intensity are more prone to Achilles tendinitis.

3. Arthritis:
Arthritis, especially osteoarthritis, can affect the ankle joint, leading to pain and stiffness. This condition occurs when the protective cartilage between the bones wears down, causing bones to rub against each other. Arthritis-related ankle pain is often accompanied by swelling and limited range of motion.

4. Fractures:
In some cases, ankle pain may be a result of a fracture. Stress fractures, where tiny cracks develop in the bones due to repetitive stress, are common among athletes. Ankle fractures can also occur due to accidents or falls, causing severe pain, swelling, and inability to bear weight.

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5. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome:
Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist, tarsal tunnel syndrome affects the ankle. It is caused by the compression of the posterior tibial nerve, resulting in pain, tingling, and numbness. This condition is often aggravated during walking or standing for prolonged periods.

6. Gout:
Gout is a type of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. When the ankle joints are affected, it can lead to sudden and severe pain, redness, and swelling. Gout attacks can be triggered by factors like a high-purine diet, alcohol consumption, or certain medications.

7. Flat Feet:
People with flat feet, or fallen arches, may experience ankle pain when walking. Flat feet can cause overpronation, where the feet roll inward excessively, placing strain on the ankles. This can result in pain, instability, and an increased risk of ankle sprains.

8. Plantar Fasciitis:
Although plantar fasciitis primarily affects the heel, it can also cause ankle discomfort. The plantar fascia, a ligament connecting the heel to the toes, can become inflamed and cause pain along the bottom of the foot and up to the ankle. This condition is often felt during the first few steps after waking up or following prolonged periods of rest.

9. Bursitis:
Bursitis refers to the inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs called bursae, which cushion the joints. Ankle bursitis can cause pain, tenderness, and swelling near the ankle joint. Repetitive activities or excessive pressure on the ankle can trigger this condition.

10. Overuse Injuries:
Engaging in intense physical activities or repetitive motions without proper rest can lead to overuse injuries. These injuries can affect the tendons, ligaments, and muscles around the ankle, causing pain during movement.

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11. Peripheral Neuropathy:
Peripheral neuropathy occurs when there is damage to the peripheral nerves, often due to diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, or certain medications. This condition can cause pain, tingling, and weakness in the ankles and feet, especially during walking.

12. Poor Footwear:
Wearing ill-fitting shoes or those lacking proper support can put excessive strain on the ankles and lead to pain. High heels, flip-flops, or worn-out shoes can all contribute to ankle discomfort during walking.


1. How can I relieve ankle pain when walking?
Ans: Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) can help reduce pain and swelling. Wearing proper footwear, engaging in ankle-strengthening exercises, and using over-the-counter pain relievers can also provide relief.

2. When should I seek medical attention for ankle pain?
Ans: If the pain persists, intensifies, or is accompanied by severe swelling, inability to bear weight, or deformity, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional.

3. Can ankle pain be prevented?
Ans: Maintaining a healthy weight, wearing appropriate footwear, warming up before exercise, and gradually increasing intensity can help prevent ankle pain. Strengthening the ankle muscles and improving balance are also beneficial.

4. Is surgery necessary for ankle pain?
Ans: Surgery is usually a last resort and is only considered when conservative treatments fail to alleviate the pain or when there is a severe injury or deformity.

5. How long does it take to recover from a sprained ankle?
Ans: The recovery time for a sprained ankle can vary based on the severity of the sprain. Mild sprains may heal within a few weeks, while more severe ones can take several months to fully recover.

6. Can ankle pain be a sign of a more serious condition?
Ans: Yes, ankle pain can sometimes be an indication of an underlying condition such as arthritis, gout, or a stress fracture. Seeking medical attention can help diagnose and treat any potential serious conditions.

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7. Are there exercises to strengthen the ankles?
Ans: Yes, exercises like ankle circles, heel raises, and single-leg balances can help strengthen the ankle muscles and improve stability.

8. Can flat feet be corrected?
Ans: While flat feet cannot be fully corrected, supportive footwear, orthotic inserts, and specific exercises can help alleviate pain and provide better arch support.

9. How can I prevent overuse injuries?
Ans: Incorporating rest days into your exercise routine, gradually increasing intensity, and cross-training can help prevent overuse injuries.

10. Can ankle pain be a symptom of diabetes?
Ans: Yes, peripheral neuropathy, a common complication of diabetes, can cause ankle pain and other related symptoms.

11. Are there any natural remedies for ankle pain?
Ans: Applying a warm compress, soaking the feet in Epsom salt, or using essential oils like lavender or peppermint can provide temporary relief from ankle pain.

12. Can ankle pain be a result of poor posture?
Ans: Poor posture can affect the alignment of the lower body, leading to ankle pain. Correcting posture and engaging in exercises that improve posture can help alleviate ankle discomfort.

In conclusion, ankle pain during walking can be caused by various factors, ranging from sprains and overuse injuries to more serious conditions like arthritis or fractures. It is important to identify the underlying cause and seek appropriate treatment to alleviate the pain and prevent further complications. Consulting a healthcare professional is advisable for a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.