Our bodies are mechanical wonders – this is something we’re growing to understand more and more as the years progress, and as science gives us better insight into their inner workings. Sadly, however, most of us appear to not truly appreciate how well-engineered our bodies are. This is arguably not a feature of ignorance or lack of care, but more of just how seamlessly integrated our bodily functions are – no one needs to wonder about anything because it works so well all the time. Nevertheless, if one were to take a closer look, they would have a lot of wonderful discoveries to make. One such discovery is also often a source of concern, namely ankle pain.
Our Ankles are Amazingly-Engineered Joints
The joints of our body in general are quite remarkable for what they do, and the simple but elegant way they execute complex physical tasks. Bones meet and are cushioned by cartilage, and tendons connect the bones to the muscles whose flexing and relaxing cases movement. This simple system allows the joint to bear and transfer weight smoothly, as in the case of the ankle or knee, or to lever another body part to where it should be, as in the case of the elbow, or even to close around an object, as the joints of our fingers do.
Our ankles in particular are able to do a lot of things, although all these boil down to the ankle’s own basic function. Whether in terms of running, jumping, squatting, or climbing stairs, the ankle is involved in a critical way. This complicated hinge system has many moving parts that are the last point between our feet and the rest of our entire body – and the way that it can support up to 1.5 times our weight when walking and up to 8 times our weight when running is truly something.
We refer to it as one joint all the time, but the ankle actually has two major parts: the true ankle joint and the subtalar joint. This is all made up of the expected parts of joints: bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. The top of the ankle bone fits within a socket found at the lower end of the shin bone and lower leg bone, while the bottom rests on the heel bone. The joint is cushioned with a quarter-inch-thin layer of articular cartilage that works as a shock absorber. Tendons connect muscles to the bones, and ligament complexes help facilitate movement.
We often take the ankle for granted until it starts to hurt – and then when ankle pain creeps in we wish we could see through the skin so we can figure out what the problem is. The fact is, there are many possible reasons for an ankle to start hurting.
- Achilles tendinitis. The famed Achilles tendon can be subject to the same overuse injury that can be suffered by the elbow. This is most commonly experienced by runners who suddenly up the intensity of their runs, or to poorly conditioned players of other sports like tennis or basketball.
- Bone spurs. Technically referred to as osteophytes, bone spurs form along the edge of bones. This may be brought on as part of the joint damage resulting from osteoarthritis.
- Gout. This is a complex form of arthritis that can affect anyone. It’s felt as sudden, sharp flashes of pain, with accompanying tenderness and reddening of the joint.
- Pseudogout. This very real condition is more properly known as CPPD, or calcium pyropohosphate deposition disease. Nicknamed psuedogout for its similarity to gout, this is also caused by crystal deposits in the joint that cause the pain.
- Bursitis. Around our joints is typically found what is called a bursar sac. Bursitis is the condition that sees these sacs become inflamed, causing pain in the immediate area.
Acupressure Treatment for Ankle Pain
Treatment for ankle pain, as with most joint issues, typically involves a healthy amount of rest. Giving it time to heal is of paramount importance, as continued stress will just slow the healing process down considerably. Keeping the affected joint iced will also help reduce the swelling and the pain – the cold will numb the nerves in the joint and make the pain go down a bit, while also impeding swelling. Compression is also recommended as a factor that reduces swelling. One more currently-popular treatment however, is acupressure. There are indeed acupressure points near the anle and although this might not be for everyone, if you are open to trying it, it might give you the relief you seek.
Also called shiatsu, acupressure is similar to acupuncture in that it operates on the belief that energy flows through our bodies in channels that can be manipulated. Acupressure tends to involve stretching or massage in order to access these channels. There are a number of common acupressure points near the ankle, especially for ankle pain.
- One is located at the inner side of the ankle bone, more specifically in the large hollow next to the bone itself. Press this point for 30 seconds, release, then apply more pressure for 30 more seconds. Repeat for 8 minutes, and remember to breathe deeply as you do this.
- A second point is located at the “illuminated sea”, on the inner side of the ankle. Apply pressure 1 cm away from the ankle, and do this simultaneously for both points. Results can be enhanced if this is done for 2 minutes daily.
- The “high mountains” acupressure point can help reduce ankle pain, and other types of pain besides, such as thigh and lower back pain. Find the part between your ankle bone and lower Achilles tendon, and place pressure on it with your thumb. Hold pressure for 30 seconds, then release; repeat for 5 minutes.
- One final acupressure point is nowhere near your ankle, and is in fact along your wrist line. Use your thumb to apply pressure to the middle of your wrist, holding it continuously for two minutes. Make sure not to press too hard.
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