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Dr. Sisson/ March 28th, 2023
If your ankle hurts when you wake up and step out of bed in the morning, it can be an uncomfortable and frustrating way to start the day.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to relieve the pain.
Causes of Ankle Pain When You Wake Up In The Morning
Ankle pain in the morning is often caused by stiffness in the ankle joint and / or calf muscles that due to lack of movement during sleep.
Depending on your sleeping position, your ankle may be held in a position where your toes are pointed, which makes your calf muscles stiff if you stay like that all night.
Why Does The Outside Of My Ankle Hurt When I Wake Up?
If you get pain on the outside of your ankle in the morning, it may be due to a nerve that runs along the outer side of your Achilles tendon and ankle called the sural nerve.
Nerves need space, movement, and good blood flow to remain healthy. However, when you sleep, your ankle gets stiff and lacks movement and blood flow.
This leads to ischemia in the nerve, which means lack of oxygen. This in turn can cause the outside of your ankle to hurt after sleeping.
To relieve pain in the outer ankle, try pointing your ankle up and down a few times and rolling your ankle in circles to get movement and oxygen.
Then when you go to stand up, curl your toes as you take your first step in order to maintain the arch in your foot and keep your foot in a neutral position.
Why Does The Inside Of My Ankle Hurt When I Wake Up?
Pain on the inside of the ankle when you wake up can also be casued by a nerve problem. However, instead of your sural nerve, pain on the inside of the ankle can be caused by a tibial nerve problem.
It can also be caused by tendons to your foot and toes that run along the inside of your ankle.
All of these problems collectively are referred to as tarsal tunnel syndrome.
A major contributing factor to inner ankle pain when you wake up is overpronation of your foot and / or stiffness in your calf muscles.
To alleviate this pain, try pointing your ankle up and down and moving it in circles to loosen up the muscles.
You can also try stepping down with your toes curled and arch lifted in order to avoid overpronating your foot as you take your first few steps in the morning.
Why Does The Front Of My Ankle Hurt When I Wake Up?
Pain in the front of the ankle can be caused by either arthritis, or some other problem that's causing pinching inside the ankle joint itself.
This can cause a pinching pain in the front of the ankle when you wake up.
Some people with arthritis tend to get stiff when they haven't moved for a while.
To alleviate this pain, again you'd want to get the ankle moving in the morning. Take shorter steps your first few steps so that until your ankle joint loosens up. Stretching your calves or using a massage roller stick on your calves can be helpful.
Pain In The Back Of The Ankle When You Wake Up
Pain in the back of the ankle may be due to stiffness in the Achilles tendon or calf muscles.
Similarly to above, stretching your calves and using a massage stick can be helpful to relieve back of the ankle pain when you wake up.
However, there are many people who DON'T have calf stiffness when they wake up, so it's also important to discover how your calves got stiff in the first place.
It can be frustrating if your ankle hurts when you wake up in the morning, but there are several things you can do to alleviate the discomfort.
Beyond the things above, getting help from a physical therapist who really understands the foot and ankle can help speed up your recovery.
The foot and ankle are complex, and you really need a firm understanding of biomechanics to treat it properly.
Not only do you need to take into account the foot and ankle, but also EVERYTHING ELSE that has to balance on top of the foot and ankle.