Photo of a feminine woman massaging her sore ankle - common causes of ankle pain without injury - read the guide here

What Can Cause Ankle Pain Without Injury? An Easy Guide

by Mark Paigen 5 minute read

Ankle Pain 101: Causes of Sudden Ankle Pain Without Injury

Have you ever experienced sudden ankle pain without injury?

This condition is not unique, despite its peculiarity. According to a study, about 15% of people middle-aged and older suffer from recurrent sudden ankle pain without injury, no swelling, and a lack of a clear cause. There may be an underlying medical cause for your suffering.

Today we'll cover some of the reasons you might have ankle pain without injury and what steps you should take to help the situation.

What Can Cause Ankle Pain Without Injury?

Have you ever woken up in a panic, wondering, "why does my ankle hurt?"

When you suddenly experience ankle pain, no swelling, and overall discomfort, you may assume that you've somehow hurt your ankle. However, several factors might induce abrupt ankle discomfort without causing any harm.

While it's true that we can't expect to prevent all injuries that happen in life, if we take steps to understand the causes, we can help mitigate worsening them.

For example, it is possible to have sharp pain in the ankle that comes and goes through improper footwear and overuse of your foot for extended periods. It's prevalent for someone to cause harm to their ankle while attempting certain activities or if they wear shoes with significant heels.

Here are the most common reasons for unexplained ankle bruising and swelling to help you find a solution:


Osteoarthritis is a condition where the joints of the body deteriorate. It’s caused by the breakdown of the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones. It's also excruciatingly uncomfortable and can cause increasing distress, particularly when getting up in the morning.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Another illness that might produce abrupt discomfort in your ankle without an injury is rheumatoid arthritis. This is not a typical ailment like osteoarthritis. It's actually an autoimmune illness in which your immune system destroys the lining of your joints by mistake. The ankles, knees, hips, and finger joints are all often affected by rheumatoid arthritis.

Because it shares numerous symptoms with osteoarthritis, this kind of arthritis can be challenging to recognize. For example, it can produce abrupt joint discomfort, joint swelling, and inflammation. It can also make joint-movement-required activities more challenging.

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, has some symptoms that are distinct from osteoarthritis. This includes the possibility of a fever as a result of this ailment. It can also cause extreme exhaustion and a loss of appetite.

Reactive Arthritis

Arthritis symptoms might be triggered by a bacterial infection in another region of your body. Reactive arthritis can potentially lead to an ailment called spondyloarthropathy, which can cause sudden ankle pain without injury.

Flat Feet/Fallen Arches

Flat feet is a frequent and usually benign disorder that happens when the arches do not correctly shape during childhood. Flat feet might also be caused by an accident or the ordinary wear-and-tear stresses that come with age.


There are two fluid sacs in the ankle, also known as bursas, that cushion the space between the bones and tendons. Wearing improper shoes, overuse, arthritis, or intensive exercises after a break can cause inflammation in these sacs. You may notice swelling and stiffness in your ankles and pain and warmth to the touch if this happens.


Lupus is an inflammatory autoimmune illness. The common symptoms of lupus are joint pain, fever, fatigue, and skin rashes. These symptoms can occur in any joint in the body but can be especially bothersome in the joints of the fingers and toes. In fact, more than half of lupus patients develop arthritis in their feet and ankles.


Gout is a severe form of inflammatory arthritis. Gout is a type of arthritis that causes repeated attacks of inflammation and pain in the big toe. Gout can affect the joints of other parts of the body and may lead to kidney problems and heart disease. Gout attacks can strike at any time leading to sudden ankle pain without injury.


Sclerosis is a general term used to describe the hardening and thickening of the skin and connective tissue. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. The most common form of scleroderma is systemic scleroderma, in which the skin thickens and hardens in the internal organs as well as the external coat.

Scleroderma-related inflammation can cause swelling and damage to many organ systems, tissues, and joints and can show itself as a sudden sharp pain in the ankle.

Achilles tendinitis

Do you get ankle discomfort when you walk, even if you don't remember damaging it? Achilles tendinitis, which causes pain in the back of the heel, is a possibility. This happens when your Achilles tendon is suddenly strained, and micro-tears form. Even if there is no apparent evidence of damage, you may notice that your ankle is sore, heated, or slightly swollen above it. By elevating and resting your foot, you may be able to reduce the pain. You may be allowed to take OTC anti-inflammatory or pain drugs if your doctor recommends it.

Sudden Ankle Pain Without Injury: Treatment Options

Whatever problem you're having with your ankles, you may contact your podiatrist for assistance in relieving discomfort and reducing swelling.

A doctor will generally perform a thorough test of your ankle's mobility and look for signs of edema and infection.

In rare cases, additional clinical examination may be necessary to rule out injuries or structural issues. An ultrasound, for instance, might detect tendon damage. A CT scan can be used to determine the extent of ligament or skeletal damage.

Your doctor may recommend taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or putting a topical ointment on your ankle, depending on the severity of your discomfort.

Alternatively, your doctor may advise you to wear strong arch support when standing, strolling, or jogging to improve your biomechanics, such as the ones provided by Tread Labs. Flat feet insole orthotics relieve discomfort, balance your body, and align your spine, lowering your chance of developing issues in your knees, back, hips, and sudden ankle pain without injury.

A low, supporting arch and heel stability are the most beneficial, especially for flat feet. These elements help to absorb impact and give long-term recovery.

However, be aware that joint fusion surgery or ankle replacement surgery may be necessary for more extreme situations.

How to Prevent Sudden Ankle Pain

The causes of sudden ankle pain without injury are often quite different from other foot injuries. Nearly half of all ankle injuries result from improper footwear. If you're experiencing ankle pain, it's essential to determine the cause of the pain to take steps to mitigate it. This can include switching to lower impact activities, such as walking or running, or wearing insoles that provide additional support to the ankle.

Tread Labs is an innovative company that produces high-quality, user-friendly, custom-fit orthotic insoles and athletic footwear. They are a scientifically proven way to prevent injury and help you return to your activities safely. Contact us today, and we'll help you get back on your feet!

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