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Sports Medicine

Ankle Pain When Exercising

03/12/2002

Question:

For the past few months I have been experiencing pain in the front of both my ankles (right where they bend) when walking on my treadmill and hiking in the desert.I have been doing both these activities with no problems for years. The pain comes after about 15 minutes of exercise and gets bad. It seems to come after walking fast and/or using the incline on the treadmill or hiking hills in the desert. The pain goes away quickly after stopping the activities. Normal level around-town walking does not cause any problem. The last two times in the desert I continued hiking with the pain for 45 minutes then took a short water break and when continuing hiking the pain went away but both ankles felt weaker than usual. I have two pair of orthodics. One is a custom pair made by a Doctor that I have had for years and the other is a pair of custom made "Superfeet" made by a person in an outdoor shop. Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks

Answer:

Pain in the anterior ankles can have several different causes. The most likely cause of your pain is anterior tibialis tendonitis, an irritation of the major tendon of the ankle that allows you to dorsiflex (pull the ankle up towards you). There are other less likely problems including poor blood supply to the feet or injury to the joint capsules of the ankles. However, this would be unusual to present in the way you have described and in both ankles. Anti-inflammatory medications and temporary rest will be the best with physical therapy. Xray is a reasonable idea to make sure there aren`t bone spurs on the front of the ankle that are rubbing on the tendon.

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Response by:

Charles Webster, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati