Some forms of foot and ankle pain are continuous. Others only flare up with certain motions. Ankle pain can catch you off guard, especially when it comes while flexing your foot upward. This simple movement can become a source of major discomfort. There are various possible reasons for ankle pain when flexing your foot up. Understanding what could be causing your ankle pain can help you find solutions for a pain-free stride.
Dorsiflexion is the action of flexing your hand or foot backward. With foot dorsiflexion, the motion relies largely on the ankle. This motion happens so often that it tends to go unnoticed. It is a movement the foot uses to climb stairs, run and walk. The feeling of ankle pain when flexing your foot up can cause you to avoid dorsiflexion. This may impede your ability to move around. The possible causes of ankle pain when flexing your foot up can range from minor issues to more serious conditions. To receive an accurate diagnosis, it is important to receive an evaluation from a physical therapist or other medical expert.
5 causes of ankle pain when flexing your foot up
- Achilles tendinitis — Achilles tendinitis is the inflammation of the Achilles tendon. As the longest tendon in the body, the Achilles tendon plays a crucial role in keeping the lower leg connected. It stretches from the heel bones to the calf muscles. If you are participating in a standing activity, you are probably engaging your Achilles tendon. When this tendon becomes inflamed from overexertion or repetitive stress, you may feel pain throughout the leg. Flexing your foot up when experiencing tendinitis can strain the already inflamed tendon. This can cause pain along the back of the ankle.
- Nerve compression — Do you feel a tingling or burning pain when flexing your foot up? If you do, you may have a compressed nerve. Nerves can become compressed or pinched due to a bone spur, cyst or one of many other possible factors. When a nerve is compressed, dorsiflexion may further irritate it. This irritation can cause acute nerve pain.
- Gout — Gout is a type of arthritis. This means it is a condition that causes inflammation, stiffness and swelling in certain joints. Different types of arthritis exist with different causes and sometimes unique symptoms. Gout is caused by excess uric acid buildup. This buildup can lead to sudden bursts of symptoms like pain, redness and swelling. Gout attacks often come at night, but can happen at any time. If you are experiencing a gout flare-up, dorsiflexion can trigger sudden ankle pain.
- Ankle impingement — Ankle impingements are painful entrapments often caused by rubbing or pressure. In addition to causing discomfort, this condition tends to limit joint movement. This can make dorsiflexion more difficult. If you have ankle impingement, you may feel like your ankle is not stable. Trying to flex your foot up when you have an ankle impingement can make the impingement worse and intensify your ankle pain.
- Overuse injuries — Overuse injuries are highly common, especially in athletic people. If you put too much stress on your ankles with activities like running and jumping, you can injure the ankle tendons and muscles. If you feel an aching pain that grows gradually, it may be a sign that your ankles have been overused. When recovering from an overuse injury, flexing your foot up can exacerbate the current ankle pain. Rest and physical therapy can help you recover from ankle overuse. Sports performance training can help you achieve balanced workouts that reduce the risk of ankle overuse in the first place.
Lattimore Physical Therapy can provide relief for your ankle pain
Experiencing ankle pain when flexing your foot up is not a situation you need to endure. Seeking a proper diagnosis and treatment can help you find relief. With the right guidance, you can get on track to return to pain-free movement. Consulting a professional can make a major impact on your recovery outcome. At Lattimore Physical Therapy, we can provide expert PT guidance each step of the way. Our dedicated team works to follow “the Lattimore way,” meaning we take a personal approach to each patient. We want physical therapy to be an enjoyable positive experience for each patient engaged in a tailored treatment plan. When you enter your first one-on-one PT session, you can begin a collaborative effort to address the underlying causes of your ankle pain.
Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment to address your ankle pain.