Knee and Ankle Pain: Symptoms, Causes and Effective Remedies

With changing lifestyles and habits, most people encounter several health disorders, sometimes even from an early age. The disorders are either caused by genetic factors or a drastic and unhealthy lifestyle1.

It is evident that with age, wrinkles come along with health issues. To stay fit and strong in the old days, one must follow a disciplined lifestyle as a youth for better health and well-being. One of the most common issues most of the population suffers from is knee and ankle pain.

Let us dive deep into the topic to stay aware and fit.

What is knee and ankle pain?

A basic definition of this would be discomfort in the knee and ankle caused by a joint injury or negligence toward healthcare. The data suggest that more than 48% of the population has knee and ankle pain.

Though the condition has become common, some individuals suffer severe pain. In addition to knee pain, some people develop foot and ankle pain. Proper and correct information about knee, ankle, and foot pain can help detect the symptoms earlier and start treatment.

Here, we will provide a detailed case description so you can care for yourselves.

What causes knee and ankle pain?

We all should be aware of the causes of the disorders and take precautions. After all, “Precaution is better than cure”.

Causes of knee pain

knee and ankle pain
Image Source: planet_fox/ Pixabay

Causes of knee pain could be injuries, different types of arthritis, and other physical issues.

  1. Knee pain can arise from injuries like accidents, fractures, and tearing of ligaments, tendons, and bursae 2(fluid-filled sacs).
  2. Common injuries from accidents or falling from a height can sometimes dislocate the kneecap (patella), torn ligament, or tendons near the bone.
  3. Tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL, one of four ligaments that connects the shinbone and thighbone) is one of the common knee injuries among people who play basketball, football, or other sports that require a sudden change in position.
  4. Knee OA (knee osteoarthritis) is among the most common reasons for knee pain among the elderly. It is the wear and tear and progressive loss of articular cartilage3.
  5. The most draining type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. It is a chronic disorder and can cause extreme cases. It is an autoimmune disease that can affect whichever joint, including the knee, making the body weak and drained.
  6. Gout, a type of arthritis, arises when excess uric acid crystals accumulate in the joint, causing much joint pain. Though gout primarily affects the big toe, it can also attack the knee, giving sharp knee pain.
  7. Knee problems and pain can also arise when the individual suffers from hip or foot pain. The individual tends to change how he walks to relieve pain, which may pressure the whole knee.

Causes of ankle pain

Several factors are responsible for ankle pain, like knee pain. Some of the most common causes of ankle pain are listed below.

  1. A sprained ankle can make you suffer from ankle pain. A sprain can arise when your foot rolls sideways accidentally. A sprain can cause ankle injury. It can be put right by homemade remedies like applying ice on the injured ankle or wrapping around an elastic bandage.
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause ankle pain. The immune system attacks the joints on both sides of the body, causing frequent pain and swelling in the joints.
    Arthritis can cause severe pain in the ankle joint, and swelling is visible.
    Though exercises and physical therapy can cure it, a doctor’s prescription can be helpful to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  3. Flat feet are a condition with no arch between the heel and foot. This condition can result in wear and tear of the muscles near the ankle joints. A flat foot can also give rise to plantar fasciitis (inflammation of thick tissue band connecting heel bones to toes). Wearing the right footwear, specially prepared shoes to support flat feet, and a physical therapist can relieve foot problems.
  4. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel. So, a sudden strain in the tendon can cause tiny tears, causing pain in the ankle joints. Some anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid injections can give some relief, but despite that, it is better to consult a doctor or physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Let us look at treatments, remedies, and risk factors to avoid such painful situations.

Risk factors to avoid

knee and ankle pain
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As we know, it is always better to take some safety measures to avoid getting injured. Also, a basic understanding of the strains, cramps, and arthritis can help determine the problem sooner so treatments become easy.

  1. Some sports can give you pain in your ankle and knee joints. Playing sports like basketball, football, skiing, gymnastics, and more can put a lot of shocks and strains on the knee and ankle.
  2. Avoid jarring exercises like kickboxing, jumping, deep squats, and lunges. These exercises put pressure on the whole body and lower leg bones.
  3. Occupations that put excess pressure on the knee joint and ankle injuries include farming, construction work, or labour-intensive activities, which are risk factors.
  4. Previous injuries in the knee and ankle joints make your bones and cartilage weak near the joints, making them fragile. You need to take extra care as the previously injured joints are more prone to further damage or injury.
  5. People with less flexible and weak bodies should take precautions while exercising, lifting heavy weights, and performing some work that needs energy and strength of the lower leg.
  6. Obesity can be a significant cause of pain in lower leg bones, including knee, foot, ankle, and other kinematically involved joints. Eating healthy and having a balanced diet is a one-stop solution for radiating pain from lower extremity joints.

We should avoid These common risk factors to avoid knee and ankle pain.

Common symptoms that should NOT be ignored

People often ignore common symptoms, thinking that they will heal with time. But we should never neglect any ill symptoms in our bodies. Early detection of symptoms may help us find the pain’s root cause, and eventually can be healed.

The Multicentre Osteoarthritis Study, or MOST, studies nutritional and structural factors related to knee pain (knee osteoarthritis) and incident knee OA outcomes. This study enables us to gain in-depth knowledge and assess knee OA4.

Symptoms of knee pain

Frequent knee pain with swelling in the knee joints can be an early indication of arthritis. Arthritis is a common term for more than a hundred diseases. It includes swelling, frequent joint pain, and inflammation caused by wear and tear of ligaments and tissues.

Knee osteoarthritis (knee OA) outcomes generally include stiffness in the knee joint (most noticeable in the morning, after waking up, or in cold weather), swelling, loss of flexibility, etc. Knee OA has become an issue because of today’s stressful lifestyle. In that case, you should consult a medical professional to avoid further risks.

Foot and ankle symptoms

Foot and ankle symptoms include swelling and warmth around the ankle joint and foot region. Sharp pain when you try to get up with a sudden jerk and isolated joint pain are considered some of the common symptoms.

The individual may suffer from pain as he/she tries to put the entire body weight on the ankle and foot joints.

Remedies and treatment for knee and ankle pain

knee and ankle pain
Image Source: PixelsAway/ DepositPhotos

Since we now know about the causes and certain risk factors of knee and ankle pain, we need basic knowledge about the remedies.

It is not always possible to be aware and avoid accidents and injuries. But keeping the following listed points in mind will help you take better care of yourself and your loved ones.

  1. Eat Greens: Eat greens and stay evergreen. Eating balanced meals with proper calcium is necessary for healthy bones and muscles.
  2. Maintaining the body weight: Neglecting the pounds you gain from junk food is a straight NO. Most of the health problems arise from the type of food you intake. Losing those extra unhealthy pounds will reduce the excess pressure of the whole body on lower extremity joints. Losing weight should not be misunderstood with a strict diet plan. Eat in a balanced way and make your body light and strong.
  3. Use the RICE way: RICE is a popular yet effective way to heal sprain, strain, or pain in the lower leg muscles. RICE stands for Rest (Give your injured leg some rest. Restrict sudden movements); Ice (Applying ice immediately after a fall or injury helps to reduce pain and swelling to a great extent); Compression (Wrap around the injured area with a compression bandage. But be careful not to tie too tightly that it hinders blood circulation); Elevation (Place your injured leg in some elevation like placing the leg above a pillow or cushion).
  4. Know your body: It is very important to know your body type and the exercises you perform. You can not and should not deadlift with pain in the knee joint. You should never force your body to do workouts that aren’t simply made for your body type.
  5. Magical ointments: Research papers have published that some herbal ointments work magically to reduce swelling and pain. Ointments containing cinnamon, mastic, sesame oil, and ginger are effective. They are a common natural home remedy that works best for some individuals.
  6. Arthritis: Frequent knee pain should not be neglected. The advice and prescription from a medical professional is a must. A delay in consulting the doctor can be a reason for an increased risk of arthritis or other issues. Arthritis (osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, or post-traumatic arthritis) is a common problem in the elderly. However, some individuals suffer from a higher risk of arthritis, which requires surgery. Post-surgery patient care is very crucial for a speedy recovery. Arthritis Foundation is a nonprofit organization that researches arthritis. Also, the foundation is devoted to helping individuals suffering from arthritis lead an easy life.

When should you consult a doctor?

Consult a doctor before the condition worsens. The following factors are important to remember so you can consult a medical professional immediately.

  1. Frequent knee or ankle and foot pain are signs that home remedies will not work now.
  2. Swelling in the injured area or joints.
  3. If the patient can no longer put the body weight on lower leg bones.
  4. Infection near the part of the injury.
  5. Unable to fully extend or bend the lower leg.
  6. Fever accompanied by redness and itching.

Bottom Line

The causes and the risk factors should be taken care of, and the remedies should be followed to eliminate the joint pain. The problem is common in the elderly, but younger people also complain about the pain. Proper precautions and knowledge can help to prevent painful conditions.

We should care for ourselves when symptoms appear and know our body’s needs and demands.

  1. Aseervatham, G. Smilin Bell, et al. “Environmental factors and unhealthy lifestyle influence oxidative stress in humans—an overview.” Environmental Science and Pollution Research 20 (2013): 4356-4369. ↩︎
  2. Beaman, Francesca D., and Jeffrey J. Peterson. “MR imaging of cysts, ganglia, and bursae about the knee.” Magnetic Resonance Imaging Clinics of North America 15.1 (2007): 39-52. ↩︎
  3. Biswal, Sandip, et al. “Risk factors for progressive cartilage loss in the knee: a longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging study in forty‐three patients.” Arthritis & Rheumatism: Official Journal of the American College of Rheumatology 46.11 (2002): 2884-2892. ↩︎
  4. Hunter, David J., et al. “Evolution of semi-quantitative whole joint assessment of knee OA: MOAKS (MRI Osteoarthritis Knee Score).” Osteoarthritis and cartilage 19.8 (2011): 990-1002. ↩︎

Last Updated on by Sathi Chakraborty, MSc Biology

Authors

preranasheee
Sathi Chakraborty, MSc Biology
  1. My friend is a Sports person and I was looking searching for the articles from where I could get some idea about her ankle pain and I found this one. This is really helpful and has covered almost everything. Thank you for this one.

  2. Thank you for sharing this helpful article! I’ve had problems with my knees and ankles before, so it’s nice to read something that explains things clearly. The part about the signs and solutions really makes sense. Taking care of our joints is really important. Well done to the writer for talking about this

  3. Just my luck that I came across this article as from few days only I was having ankle discomfort, I was really confused that from where this discomfort is caused, your article really helped me a get a brief idea about that I might have strained or twisted my ankle. I will surely try the Rice and magic ointment remedy.

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