What are the causes of pain in the ankles & feet?

Updated February 21, 2017

There are a number of conditions that can cause pain in the ankles and feet. While some are more severe than others, all can make running, walking, and evening standing a difficult and painful process. If pain in the ankles and feet is extremely strong and persistent, it may be best to go to the emergency room or to see a doctor.

Fallen Arches

Fallen arches - or flat feet - is a condition that affects the foot's arch. Fallen arches are caused by poor joint connections, which allow the arch of the foot to collapse when a person stands up or walks. While most people with fallen arches do not experience significant discomfort from the condition, some may suffer from terrible pain in the ankles and feet.


Sprains most commonly occur in the ankles. Sprained ankles are the result of falls, twists and joint displacement. Sprains are actually stretches or tears in the ligaments that connect bones. These ligaments prevent bones from changing position in the joints. Symptoms of a sprain may include pain, bruising, swelling and trouble bearing weight. The severity of these symptoms is dependent upon how badly the ligaments are strained or torn.


A fracture implies that a piece of bone has been broken. A broken foot, ankle, or combination of the two could certainly result in a lot of pain. Symptoms will be similar to an ankle sprain, but much stronger. The joint will be extremely tender and bearing weight on the affected limb will be extremely difficult. Medical attention should be sought immediately if someone has a suspected foot or ankle fracture.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease that affects your autoimmune system. In a healthy person, antibodies are sent by your immune system to fight infections. But in a sufferer of RA, these same antibodies actually target joints. Pain and inflammation in the joints, especially in the hands and feet, are symptoms of the disease. Other symptoms include poor joint mobility, fever, fatigue, puffy hands, and lack of hunger. The disease is more common in women than men.


Tendinitis, or tendinitis, results from the tearing of tendons at a microscopic level. Tendons connect muscle to bone, and are much less elastic than their muscle counterparts. Overtime, the constant strain on these tendons causes tiny tears, and these tears can become irritated and inflamed. Tendinitis often occurs in tennis players, where there is an extreme amount of repetitive motion in joints. Doctors and physical therapists often recommend braces to help prevent unwanted straining and movement of the affected area.

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About the Author

Lauren Treadwell studied finance at Western Governors University and is an associate of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Treadwell provides content to a number of prominent organizations, including Wise Bread, FindLaw and Discover Financial. As a high school student, she offered financial literacy lessons to fellow students.