When to Discuss Foot and Ankle Pain with Your Doctor

Mentioning your foot or ankle pain to your doctor can be scary. It’s common to second-guess whether our symptoms are worth mentioning. Here are a few indicators that it may be time to start a conversation.

It’s common for us to second-guess whether or not it’s time to talk to our doctor about something that’s bothering us. Foot and ankle pain is no different. For some, our ‘I can deal with it’ mantra overpowers our concern for the increasing pain. For others, our joint only aches when it rains so we might dismiss it. Other times, the pain is completely debilitating, leaving us no choice but to seek help.

Whether you’ve suffered from foot and ankle pain for years or just days, here are a few signs that it may be time to start a conversation with your doctor:

  • Your pain persists, gets worse, or recurs over time
  • Your foot/ankle aches during and after exercise
  • You’re no longer as mobile as you’d like to be
  • Medication and walking aids (like a cane) aren’t delivering enough relief
  • Your ankle stiffens after sitting too long
  • You feel pain in rainy weather
  • The pain prevents you from sleeping
  • You feel a decrease in your ability to move and flex your ankle
  • Your ankle is stiff or swollen
  • You have difficulty walking or climbing stairs
  • You have difficulty getting in and out of chairs and bathtubs
  • You’ve had a previous injury to the foot or ankle
  • You have throbbing pain in your big toe or in the ball of your foot
  • You feel pain or irritation in your toes only when wearing shoes

If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about your options. Your primary care doctor may refer you to a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon. They may suggest alternative, less invasive treatments first depending on the condition of your foot and/or ankle. Surgery may not be appropriate if you have an infection, do not have enough bone, or the bone is not strong enough to support an artificial joint (if you need an ankle joint replacement. 

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