Health Resources

Ankle conditions

What causes ankle pain?


Although ankle pain caused by arthritis is not as common as the degenerative changes in other joints, it can still be significantly painful. Ankle arthritis is the most common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or a previous ankle injury. 


A sprain in the ankle causes pain and swelling to the surrounding ligaments. In addition, patients may feel as though the joint may give way. 


Tendonitis occurs when the tendons become irritated and inflamed

Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

Posterior tibial tendonitis causes ankle pain in the joint and can lead to significant walking difficulty. 

Achilles Tendonitis

This is the most common type of tendonitis causing pain over the back of the heel. 


Different types of ankle fractures must be treated differently. While some ankle fractures can be treated like sprains, others may require surgery.


Gout is a rare cause of ankle pain.

Cartilage Damage

Ankle cartilage is susceptible to injuries if the ankle sprains, fractures, or is neglected after some injury.
When do you need to consult your doctor about your ankle pain?

Patients are advised to seek medical attention if you are unsure of the cause of your symptoms. You should consult your doctor if you have the following symptoms:

Patients are advised to seek medical attention if unsure of the cause of symptoms, such as the following:

  • Inability to walk comfortably on the affected side
  • Injury causing deformity around the joint
  • Ankle pain occurring at night or while resting
  • Ankle pain persisting beyond a few days
  • Inability to bend the ankle
  • Swelling of the joint in the calf region
  • Signs of infection, including fever, redness and warmth
  • Other unusual symptoms
Treatment options

Patients receive treatment appropriate for the cause of the problem. Therefore, it is important to seek medical advice and understand the diagnosis and the severity of symptoms before beginning any treatment programme. 


This is usually the first treatment for ankle pain relief because it allows the inflammation to subside. Crutches may be helpful for severe symptoms.

Footwear Modifications, Orthotics and Braces

The choice of treatment depends on the patient's condition.

Ice and Heat Application

Ice packs and heat pads are among the most commonly used treatments for inflammation.  Ice packs are mostly used for acute injuries to help minimise swelling while heat pads are used for chronic conditions to help relax and loosen tissues, and to stimulate blood flow to the area.


A good routine of stretching the muscles and tendons surrounding the joint can help with some ankle pain. 


Physiotherapy is an important aspect of treatment for almost all orthopaedic conditions. Physiotherapists use different modalities to increase strength, regain mobility, and help return patients to their pre-injury level of activity. 

Anti-Inflammatory Medication

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, commonly known as NSAIDs, are some of the most frequently prescribed medications, especially for patients with ankle pain caused by problems such as arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis. 

Steriod Injections

Triamcinolone is a powerful medication that treats inflammation, a common problem in patients with ankle pain.


Surgery is rarely used as part of the acute treatment of an ankle sprain. Patients who undergo surgery usually have recurrent ankle injuries and persistent ankle pain, stemming from torn ligaments that did not properly heal. 

Patients who have chronic, recurring ankle sprains usually have loose ligaments. The most commonly performed surgery to 'tighten' these ligaments is called a Brostrom repair. During surgery, the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are tightened, preventing ankle instability. 

An unstable ankle joint can be detected via a physical examination where the doctor will compare the 'good' ankle with the injured ankle to assess its 'looseness'. An X-ray of the ankle can also be taken to ascertain its strength.


Dr Zackary Chua
Head & Consultant

Prof Shamal Das De
Emeritus Consultant

Dr Chee Yu Han
Senior Consultant

Dr Andrew Hong Choon Chiet

Dr Bernard Lau

Dr Muhammed Yaser
Associate Consultant

Last updated on
Best viewed with Chrome 79.0, Edge 112.0, Firefox 61.0, Safari 11
National University Health System
  • National University Hospital
  • Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
  • Alexandra Hospital
  • Jurong Community Hospital
  • National University Polyclinics
  • Jurong Medical Centre
  • National University Cancer Institute, Singapore
  • National University Heart Centre, Singapore
  • National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore
  • NUHS Diagnostics
  • NUHS Pharmacy
  • Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
  • Faculty of Dentistry
  • Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health
Back to Top