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What Causes Ankle Pain When Walking?

author image Hannah Mich
Since 2007 Hannah Mich has written e-newsletters and been published in the "Missouri Journal of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance." She has a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Truman State University and a Master of Education in applied kinesiology from the University of Minnesota.
What Causes Ankle Pain When Walking?
Woman walking on grass Photo Credit: anmalkov/iStock/Getty Images

The ankle is the most commonly injured joint, according to a 2009 “American Family Physician” article. The repetitive flexion and extension of your ankle during walking can lead to pain and injury -- or it can aggravate an existing condition. Ankle pain can be a symptom of an ankle sprain, osteoarthritis and tendinitis. Treatment includes anti-inflammatory drugs, rest, and ice. Consult your doctor if pain persists despite these measures.

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Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain occurs when ligaments around your ankle are overstretched or torn. Stepping in a hole or simply twisting your ankle may result in a mild to severe ankle sprain. Besides pain, you may experience swelling, bruising and decreased range of motion. An ankle sprain can also cause you to have a noticeable limp while walking, and it may prevent you from performing other activities, such as running and jumping.

Impingement Syndrome

Ankle impingement syndrome occurs when tendons or nerves around your ankle are compressed, resulting in chronic pain. A 2006 article in the journal “Foot and Ankle Clinics of North America” states that runners, dancers, high jumpers and volleyball players are more susceptible to developing ankle impingement syndrome. The repetitive flexion and extension of your foot and ankle during walking can cause compression of nerves and tendons as well. Additional symptoms include swelling, joint stiffness, and numbness or tingling.


Tendinitis occurs when tendons become irritated and inflamed. Tendinitis is a chronic or overuse injury caused by repetitive movements. Your age, an increase in training intensity and over-training can increase your risk of developing tendinitis around your ankle. Pain around your ankle and affected tendons, swelling and popping are symptoms of tendinitis. With advanced tendinitis, you may experience a constant ache that worsens with walking, running and jumping.


Overuse, previous ankle injuries, and normal wear and tear can result in osteoarthritis over time. Osteoarthritis results from the gradual wearing away of the cartilage in your ankle. Common symptoms include “grinding” during ankle movement, joint stiffness, pain deep in the joint and ankle instability. Bone spurs within your ankle joint and joint deformity are complications of advanced osteoarthritis. Weight-bearing activities like walking may increase your ankle pain and cause further deterioration.


If you suspect your ankle pain is the result of a mild injury, you can try the usual RICE measures: rest, ice, compression and elevation, but seek medical attention if the pain persists. Depending on the severity and cause of your ankle pain, your physician may recommend NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen; corticosteroid injections; orthotics; physical therapy; and surgery.

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