Being kind to sore ankles?
December 20, 2016 7:44 PM   Subscribe

Looking for non-medicinal ways to help relieve sore ankles. My medications shifted, and it's a fun new symptom that flares up with migraines. Painkillers work, but seem like overkill. They just ache, like a healing bone fracture. My feet feel fine and it's not related to shoes, activity levels, or food. I'm looking for tips on symptom relief. Heat/ice packs barely touch the pain. I'll be running ideas past my doctors, but am looking for tools or ways to manage the pain without more meds.
posted by dorothyisunderwood to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
Best answer: Is it possible that increasing ankle strength and/or flexibility might help? It depends on what's causing the pain and you may want to run it by a doctor first, but many sources of pain can be made better with strength training, and it probably wouldn't hurt to start doing some ankle exercises daily (starting when it's not flaring)
posted by brainmouse at 7:53 PM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Compression socks targeting ankle area can sometimes help.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 7:58 PM on December 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Do you know at all what the underlying mechanism is? Is it nerve pain (ie not really your ankles that are the problem) or connective/soft tissue inflammation or muscle tightness or edema or maybe something that might improve with magnesium or similar?

If you don't know for sure, you might log everything you're trying - you say hot/cold packs don't help, does rubbing or pressure? Also try elevation, taking magnesium or using Epsom soaks (it's not really the soaking, it's that you absorb lots of magnesium through your feet when you soak them in Epsom salts), B-complex or brewer's yeast (works as a natural muscle relaxer). If you work in an office, is it any better on days you're not sitting in a desk chair all day (I have a limit, and after that I have various pains in my legs and feet, but if I've spent the day sitting some, lounging on the couch some, doing errands some, it doesn't happen)?

If you can bear the smell, you might try Icy Hot or a capsaicin-based cream for muscle soreness/arthritis. Note: always do a small patch-test first, you don't want to slather it on and then find out your skin can't take it.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:59 PM on December 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Absorbine. Not "Jr." or any of that new-agey claptrap. The kind for horses.
posted by sourcequench at 8:17 PM on December 20, 2016

Best answer: Talk to a Physical Therapist or a Sports Medicine doctor to learn some exercises to strengthen your supporting muscles to reduce your susceptibility to pain long-term. They can probably also suggest which of the short term remedies mentioned above would be best in your case.
posted by matildaben at 9:00 PM on December 20, 2016

Are you taking a vasodilator type medication? I wonder if its related to your veins and/ or circulation. It's definitely something I'd ask a doctor about if that's a possibility.
posted by fshgrl at 11:27 PM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I feel your pain, literally. Ever since I was a kid, that's where my worst rheumatoid arthritis pain has been, and one it's flared up there's no combination of medications but completely relieves the pain. Soaking with Epsom salts and the warmest water I can stand does help, as does massage. If those help, then I'm able to do some gentle stretching exercises.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:32 PM on December 20, 2016

Good advice above. Even though shoes are not the cause, have you tried different shoes to see if it makes any difference in how you feel at all?

I don't have quite the same issue as you (and have some edema), but things that have helped with my ankle issues include compression socks (a fairly low compression), massaging in a 2 x daily application of Amlactin lotion, changing shoes (believe it or not, certain Skechers models turn out to be the best), making sure not to be too sedentary for too long (and walking for exercise). All of what I did took trial and error/trying different combinations of things to figure out what helped. And yes, sometimes I take Advil. Sometimes, painkillers can be the answer.
posted by gudrun at 6:24 AM on December 21, 2016

For me, my ankle pain turned out to be tightness of various little muscles on the lower part of my leg, pulling on stuff (I assume). I didn't figure this out until they started keeping me up at night, and then only bc I kept trying a bunch of stuff, and the one that actually helped was the cockamamie plan to roll out those muscles on the front and side of my lower leg, from knee to ankle, with a French rolling pin. It weirded me out bc while I'm fairly used to muscle pain, this felt like a deep ache, and thus new and scary.

It also came about after I started walking long distances in a new shoe set up.

So yeah I'd try stuff and keep a log of what helps. I'm sorry. I hope something here helps!
posted by schadenfrau at 6:34 AM on December 21, 2016

Best answer: Oh, on schadenfrau's suggestion, maybe you know someone you can borrow a foam muscle roller from and try out for a few days? If you know any runners or other athletes, they may have one.

(I don't understand why they don't make any of these that have a handle, paint-roller style. I've looked, it doesn't seem to be a thing.)
posted by Lyn Never at 8:30 AM on December 22, 2016

I have peripheral neuropathy that occasionally flares into pain that takes my breath away. I have found that alternate sensations for my brain to work on help. Sometimes I can get someone to lightly scratch their long nails over my skin or scalp, but when I'm alone I use a bumpy roller on a completely different, somewhat sensitive area--my inner thigh or inside my elbow.
posted by xyzzy at 9:37 AM on December 22, 2016

Response by poster: I'm seeing one of my specialists about this next week - I started falling over somewhat randomly so it looks like it's a symptom related to a medication, not just a random thing, and I will be asking for a physiotherapist appointment to get specific exercises and check if it's my stance etc.

I went for a calf massage and THANK YOU. This was related to a running muscle strain, but my ankles felt better too. I have the foam roller on my amazon wish list so will bump it up to buy after talking to the physio first to find out. I'm reluctant to try the compression socks because I'm on warfarin which contributes to the dilation stuff and another med gives me pins & needles so anything restrictive at hands/feet became very weird. Not allowed the capsicin muscle relievers as contra-indicated for some medication unfortunately, but I'll ask about Amlactin.

And Epsom Salts and soaking is just very nice and coincidentally turned out handy - my son's pet rat has an injury and needs to have his tiny paw soaked in epsom salts so I had them ready and can sit down and soak my feet while he delicately dips his little paw in a tiny basin on my lap, and I pretend that I am a mad Victorian gentlewoman in a garret.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 12:00 AM on January 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Late follow-up: it turned out to be related to a medication change, underlying inflammation showing up when my aspirin dosage was reduced, so I had it slightly bumped it back up. I recently bought a secondhand massage chair and that's been great for bad pain days too.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 3:41 AM on March 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

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