3 Possible Causes of Sharp Pain In Your Ankle When Walking .


The ability to walk comfortably without pain for most of us is one of our most basic building blocks of a normal happy existence. Your ability to walk, stand, sit and sleep without sharp pain is most likely right up there in terms of your criteria for basic wellbeing. 

Having sharp pain in your ankle when walking for a week or so is no big deal. If however you have intermittent sharp pain in your ankle when walking persistently over months and years not only can it be frustrating, it can actually start to affect your physical health, wellbeing and lifestyle. 

Image of sharp ankle pain when walking with a bandaged ankle also.

Sharp ankle pain can be debilitating and have a profound effect on your quality of life.

There are a number of possible causes of sharp ankle pain when walking and unsurprisingly most are not life threatening, ‘quality of life’ threatening however they can most certainly be. 

Ligament tears, stress fractures, shin splints and even some diseases can cause sharp ankle pain when walking so it’s important to get these things checked out properly. 

In the meantime here are 3 possible causes of sharp ankle pain when walking you might not have considered. 

Unresolved Ankle Sprains

Most people who sprain an ankle have some pre-existing weakness in that ankle. For those that didn’t have a pre-existing weakness they most certainly do tend to have some weakness following a significant sprain. 

It is an inescapable fact of life that some injuries don’t heal all by themselves. If you don’t rest a broken bone it won’t heal, if you don’t give a sprained ankle sufficient rest it also may not heal. Some of us even retain and small amount of ‘unresolved sprain’ for years after an ankle injury.

Image depicting ankle sprain that will likely lead to sharp ankle pain when walking.

Bad ankle sprains can be a major cause of sharp ankle pains long after the primary sprain has healed.

It’s pretty obvious that you are likely to have sharp ankle pain when walking in the days and weeks following an ankle sprain. Some of us can however have longer term sharp ankle pain when walking however if the sprain does not heal properly, this can even ‘recur’ after the ankle sprain initially seemed to resolve itself. 

Muscle Weakness 

The ankle joint and the soft tissues around the ankle do a job that is almost impossible to believe. They sustain your whole body weight jarring through them between 5 &10 thousand times per day. If you weigh 60kgs that could be 60 x 3 million loads per year. I am certainly no mathematician, but that’s a big job in a joint that doesn’t even have much local muscle support. The truth is that if the body didn’t constantly repair and replace cells in your ankle on a daily basis your ankle would break down to agonising pain powder in a matter of months. 

A major part of the mechanism that protects us from developing not only injuries but sharp ankle pain when we walk is support muscles. The muscles that support the ankle and prevent ankle pain include those in the hip. The hip muscles work tirelessly to prevent wear and tear, injury and resulting sharp ankle pain when we are walking and running. If these muscles aren’t strong we leave the door wide open for us to developed sharp ankle pain when walking and a host of other symptoms. 

Scar Tissue 

An extremely common cause of sharp ankle pain when walking is scar tissue in the soft tissues at the outside of the ankle! 

Scar tissue that causes sharp ankle pain when walking can develop through repetitive strain or through specific injury. If you have a problem with the way your ankle moves, arches that are particularly high, flat feet or a history of ankle sprains you can develop microscopic scar tissue build up in the soft tissues of the ankle.

If you have a microscopic scar tissue build up in your ankle you can develop a kind of ‘catchy’ ‘irritable’ situation where there the ankle finds certain movement irritating.  This type of scar tissue build up can cause irritation to the surrounding soft tissue which then leads to sharp pain in the ankle when walking. 

Image to represent the likelihood of scar tissue in the ankle with sharp ankle pain when walking

Ankles that have a build up of scar tissue often exhibit sharp, unpredictable pains.

Some people find the scar tissue that causes their sharp ankle pain when walking doesn’t like mileage and will hurt during or after they run or walk longer distances. Some people find that the scar tissue that causes their sharp ankle pain to come and go doesn’t like certain types of activity, certain types of running surfaces or certain types of footwear. Sharp ankle pain when walking can even get to the point where it even starts to hurt at rest. 

Closing Thoughts 

Pain is not supposed to be ignored. Tissues that hurt in a stubborn or persistent way are tissues that are suffering, sharp ankle pains caused by walking are no exception. If you have sharp ankle pain when walking and it’s not going away get checked out. A wise way to view and approach any persistent pain is the same way you would a red light flashing on the dashboard of your car. You understand that the red light is not designed to be ignored. You also understand that the red light is a sign that there is something happening under the bonnet of the cart that needs attention 


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