Sprains are caused by an unfortunate fall, sudden twist or blow to the ankle. This leads to chronic ankle pain.
But scientists have said that the underlying cause of the pain could be more than just a sprain.
Usually, almost 40 percent of those who suffer an ankle sprain experience chronic ankle pain, even after being treated for their initial injury.
Now, a new study has explained that tendon injuries to the ankle can be a possible cause for this chronic pain.
In some cases, the condition is untreated or overlooked which prolongs the pain and the problem.
"When patients injure their ankles, the injury may not seem serious at first. People may not seek medical attention and they can think it will just get better on its own. I think that is why this condition often goes undiagnosed," explained Terrence Philbin, DO, lead author of the article.
The researchers explained how in some cases chronic ankle pain may actually be the result of injuries to the peroneal tendons.
The peroneal tendons are located behind the outside portion of the anklebone (called the fibula). The tendons help to stabilize the foot and ankle.
Tendon injuries can include tendonitis or swelling around the tendons. In more severe cases, the peroneal tendons can actually tear or there can be a swelling of the tendons behind the fibula bone. This can cause the ligament that holds the tendons together to stretch out and tear, or even rupture.
Peroneal tendon injuries can be characterised via ankle pain that is not responding to treatment, swelling and tenderness around the outside of the ankle, pain behind the anklebone or pain that transmits from the ankle down into the foot.
The use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound can be helpful when identifying and diagnosing peroneal tendon injuries and disorders.
"These imaging techniques offer a more complete look at the peroneal tendons. One might consider getting an MRI or ultrasound especially if you have chronic ankle pain," noted Philbin.
If the condition is caught early, non-operative treatment options can include, rest, ice and elevation, anti-inflammatory medication, immobilization in a cast or brace, or physical therapy.
More serious injuries of the peroneal tendons, including tears or ruptures, will very likely require surgery.
Peroneal tendon injuries can happen suddenly or can develop over time and is most common among athletes involved in sports that require repetitive ankle motion and in individuals who have high arches of the foot.
A proper diagnosis is essential in order to treat peroneal tendon injuries correctly and to help alleviate chronic pain.
"If you have ankle pain and it is not getting better, do not ignore it. Get it evaluated by a physician who has experience treating foot and ankle injuries," recommended Philbin.
The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS).