Chronic knee and ankle pain can interfere with your daily life, making it difficult to walk or drive, to get to and from work, or to even get out of your house and enjoy time with friends. For those who enjoy to workout, or athletes who depend on their body and their ability to move to make a living, the limitations posed by chronic knee or ankle pain can be incredibly frustrating.
Like is the case with so many forms of chronic pain, knee and ankle pain are often the result of an injury. However, the pain of the actual injury itself may seem as almost nothing compared to the frustration and discomfort that comes from the lingering chronic pain that sticks around for years following the initial injury. Knee and ankle pain are typically at their worst when you are forced to put pressure on your legs or feet, making even the most basic mobility difficult to accomplish.
Addressing the Chronic Pain
To overcome chronic knee and/or ankle pain, you need to first determine several factors. These include:
- Understanding what the original source of the pain was
- Knowing the extent of the damage
- Understanding your risk for future injury or continued damage
For example, spraining your knee is a very different injury from tearing a ligament in your knee. A partial tear of a ligament in your knee is different from a complete tear. Something like a hyperextension of the knee cap or a full dislocation of the knee cap is still different. Ankle injuries go much in the same way.
Before you can address the pain, you need to know the cause of the pain. The cause of the pain can only be determined by your physician. Once the cause is known, treatment can be discussed.
Unfortunately, once you experience one form of knee or ankle pain, you have only increased your chances of experiencing further injury and thereby further pain. Instability in the knees and ankles makes you more susceptible to falling, and so more susceptible to injury. Having damage to one makes you more likely to compensate by putting unnecessary weight on the other. The quicker you address an injury and the faster you are able to recover and become free of the pain, the better off you’ll be at being able to prevent further injury from occurring.
In many situations, knee and ankle injuries will require surgery to correct any damage to muscles, tendons or ligaments. Once any existing tears are repaired, the next course of action is to engage in physical therapy. The goal of physical therapy is to help build-up targeted muscles so that they are able to support the injured joint, thus reducing the amount of pressure put upon that joint at impact, and thereby reducing the amount of pain that you experience engaging in even simple tasks, like walking.
Talking with your physical therapist and coming up with a recovery strategy that includes regular PT coupled with on-going personal exercise, and of course guidance and support from your physical therapist as necessary can help you develop the strengthened muscles necessary to be free from ankle and knee pain.
Always consult your physical therapist or physician before starting exercises you are unsure of doing.