It is not so uncommon to experience fibromyalgia and ankle pain. Although it might not be one of your first symptoms when living with fibromyalgia, you might find that you start experiencing pain in one or both ankles. This pain may extend to your toes, heel, and even up into your calves. It may also just stay around your ankles and may or may not come with swelling.
When severe and consistent, ankle pain can limit your ability to walk, run, and enjoy other daily activities, especially due to the weight bearing nature of the ankles. Let’s focus on some things you can do to limit the pain and continue enjoying daily life.
The First “Step”
It’s easy to assume that any type of pain is associated with your fibromyalgia, but this diagnosis doesn’t prevent you from sustaining injuries or illnesses that have nothing to do with fibromyalgia. When you first notice ankle pain, you want to see your doctor so that they can eliminate all potential causes.
This is especially true if you also have swelling in your ankles, feet or calves. Swelling may hint to inflammation, but it can also occur when you’ve sustained an injury or it could indicate an endocrine condition in the thyroid or even circulation issues.
If no other cause if found, You may be able to then safely assume that this is just another symptom of your fibromyalgia.
Proper Foot Support for Fibromyalgia and Ankle Pain
So one thing we want to keep in mind regarding any kind of ankle or foot pain is prevention. We want to prevent injury to this area whenever possible. If you have a particular kind of foot structure that causes overcompensation for instance, you would want to consider seeing a foot doctor for custom orthotics.
This will help both the feet and the ankles. Some specialty shoe stores are also making these custom orthotics now as well.
Be extra careful when wearing sandals. If you are walking on any kind of uneven surface, and you have on sandals, one wrong move and your foot can slip to one side of the sandal causing a potential ankle sprain. Examples of these uneven surfaces could be walking on the sand on the beach, walking on a pathway made of rocks or gravel, or walking on stairs of any kind.
Treating Fibromyalgia and Ankle Pain
How do you treat ankle pain that seems to have no cause? This is the dilemma with most symptoms of fibromyalgia. Aside from prevention as noted above, you might consider massage therapy if possible trigger points are involved. I often recommend Myotherapy which is hands on trigger point release done by a therapist. Acupuncture might also be helpful if that is available to you.
It really comes down to easing the pain so that it doesn’t interfere with your daily life. If the pain is severe and consistent enough to interfere with your quality of life, see your doctor immediately.
You may also want to consider stretching and gently exercising your ankles. Roll them from one side to the other. Reach down and pull your toes back gently, feeling the stretch through the back of your leg and knee. These stretches aren’t likely to eliminate the pain, but they can help ease tension in the muscles and maintain the strength of your feet.
For these exercises and more, follow on the fitness page, Fibro Fit People. I show various exercises for not only the ankles but legs, knees and feet. Keeping as much strength in the surrounding areas will also support the ankles. This means consistent strengthening around the calves and knees, which will also benefit the tender areas around knees. This is an area of the body that people tend to ignore when it comes to consistent conditioning.
It doesn’t even require equipment in the beginning. It can be something as simple as standing and then going up and down from the toes (heels up) while squeezing the calves on the upper position. (do this without shoes on.)
Standing and Sitting
Be careful about overcompensation when standing. Try to be aware if you tend to stand with one hip higher than the other, as this can also affect not only the ankles and knees, but the lower back as well. This tends to occur with normal activities of daily living like washing the dishes, where you might not be focused on your lower body posture.
With sitting, you want to avoid the tendency to turn the ankles in or out, try to keep them straight forward, or at least practice this more often. Try to avoid sitting on one leg or any activity that strains the ankles. Some people even tend to roll the feet out to the sides when standing. Be more aware of these tendencies.
Additional Causes/Remedies for Fibromyalgia and Ankle Pain
Cold and hot compresses may help some people ease fibromyalgia and ankle pain as well. If you notice that the pain is more intense in the morning or after a long period of sitting or standing, you may want to check with a foot specialist to eliminate heel spurs and other conditions known to cause this pain. This is especially true if you also have pain in the heels or between your toes.
I find that CopperWear support around the ankle is helpful. This combines light compression and copper for healing effects. These are very thin and can be work with or without shoes.
You may also have trigger points, specifically around the Peroneus Tertius. It can be helpful to get a session with a massage therapist who knows Myotherapy/Hands on Trigger Point Release.
And because this area can be fairly easy to massage yourself, don’t hesitate to use thumbs and gently stroke down the outer calve area into the outer ankle bone. Go slow, hold and release as you go down the outer leg.
Your family doctor may not know about all of the conditions that cause pain in the foot and ankle, so a specialist is worth your time if the pain is consistent or you experience repeat episodes. Some conditions impacting the feet aren’t noticeable in an x-ray, so don’t assume that a clean scan means there is no identifiable cause for your pain.