Second only to knee problems, ankle pain is sadly incredibly common. On average, out of 1000 people, 184.33 have reported foot and ankle joint pain - much to everyone’s dismay as it’s one of the most frustrating injuries to have.
With our ankles helping us to participate in sports, exercise, and even walking, ankle pain is incredibly impactful on the day-to-day.
But while you’re likely experiencing this right now, you probably want to know the best non surgical treatment for ankle pain…well, we’ve got you covered with seven solutions that actually work.
From red light therapy to ankle braces, we’ve taken a look at all the possible treatments if you don’t want to go down the surgery route. These are perfect for those with mild to moderate or chronic ankle pain.
Red light therapy as a non-surgical ankle treatment
Red light therapy is a completely non-invasive, yet extremely beneficial, treatment for easing pain, reducing inflammation, and improving mobility.
It works by introducing specific wavelengths of light and targeting these to penetrate deep into your muscles. This then triggers a series of effects.
When the wavelengths reach the mitochondria (the mighty powerhouse of our cells), the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is amplified which is the fuel our muscles need to repair and regenerate.
When these ATP levels increase, cellular activity is boosted - leading to quicker healing. Blood circulation is also enhanced, which means more oxygen and nutrients can reach the muscles more efficiently, further aiding the recovery process.
The beauty of red light is that it’s now available in a home device. That means no more paying for ongoing sessions at an intimidating clinic; commuting is a thing of the past. Instead, you’ll have instant access to a handy pain management tool.
How does targeted red light therapy work to help ankle pain?
Heightened blood flow results in more oxygen and nutrients being delivered to the injured area. The oxygen supports cell growth and protein synthesis (a huge component of recovery), and the blood is also able to carry waste away from the area.
The waste is carried by the blood to the kidneys, where it’s filtered out of the body. The improved levels of oxygen and nutrients help the injury to heal sooner.
In terms of nutrients, vitamin C and zinc are able to be moved to the relevant area, which creates collagen. This is useful for forming tendons and soft tissue. Amino acids are involved too, helping with muscle repair and protein synthesis.
Not only will red light therapy lead to faster recovery times for those suffering from ankle pain, but you’ll have less swelling and inflammation.
A study showed that ankle sprains treated with light therapy had less swelling at 24,48 and 72 hours compared to rest, ice, compression, [and] elevation.
More research emphasized how people treated with light therapy returned to full weight bearing earlier after an ankle sprain.
Benefits of at Home Treatment with Kineon
Designed with your recovery in mind, our MOVE+ Pro is a portable, safe, and enhanced light therapy device. The benefits of using our device at home include:
Non-invasive: Our light therapy device is non-invasive, non-thermal, and has minimal side effects, making it a safe and gentle option for muscle recovery.
Cost-effective: Investing in a red light therapy device for home use can save you money in the long run, as it eliminates the need for repeated professional sessions.
Customizable: Can be amended to your needs as it can be applied to various muscle groups.
Convenient: You don’t have to carve time out of your day to go and complete treatment. Simply put it on the area and carry on with your day.
Accelerated Muscle Healing: The light therapy stimulates cellular repair and regeneration, facilitating faster healing of damaged muscles.
Reduced Muscle Soreness: By targeting inflammation and increasing circulation, our at-home treatment can help alleviate muscle soreness and stiffness, allowing for quicker recovery between workouts.
7 Best Non-Surgical Treatments for Ankle Pain
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Non-Sterodial Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) involve over-the-counter and prescription medication that is used to treat a huge variety of injuries, such as ankle pain, arthritis, tendonitis, and other inflammatory conditions.
For ankle pain, medical professionals could prescribe Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Aspirin, or stronger alternatives like Meloxicam or Diclofenac.
All of these tablets work by reducing the production of inflammatory prostaglandins in the body.
Benefits: NSAIDs are said to be effective in reducing pain and inflammation relatively quickly, bringing pain relief within a few hours.
Disadvantages: There are side effects to NSAIDs, like kidney problems, gastrointestinal issues, and cardiovascular risks. Each medication will have a list of possible adverse reactions. Overuse and dependency could occur as the body becomes reliant on the medication for pain relief, which is counterproductive and can be dangerous.
The aim of an ankle brace is to provide support and stability to the ankle joint. Typically, it’ll be made out of a combination of materials, like fabric, plastic, or metal. And there are different types too, all of which serve a different purpose.
Lace-up style braces are the most common. They have straps or laces that can tighten and adjust the support and are used for mild to average sprains or instability.
Other options are a stirrup, hinged, sleeve ankle, or general ankle support or wraps.
Benefits: Accessible as you can buy from a wide range of places. Ankle braces are really useful for people with chronic ankle instability as it provides ongoing support.
Disadvantages: Unfortunately, ankle braces are often said to be very uncomfortable - especially when wearing them for long periods of time.
Toe Pads or Gel Pads
These aren’t direct treatments for ankle pain, but they are part of an overall approach to improving that much-needed comfort and alignment.
Toe and gel pads focus on the foot as a whole and can address problems like an altered gait or balance, which can reduce strain on the ankle and indirectly alleviate the pain.
Both items are small cushion inserts made from a soft and pliable gel material. They can be used in various areas of the foot or toes and can help distribute pressure more evenly if you have conditions like plantar fasciitis or flat feet.
Benefits: These are majorly advantageous for providing pressure relief as this is redistributed across the whole foot - helping those with high-pressure points.
Disadvantages: Toe or gel pads are only really helpful if your pain is mild, as they don’t provide sufficient relief or support for more severe conditions or injuries.
Corticosteroid injections, or steroid injections as they’re sometimes known, tend to be prescribed by your healthcare professional as they’re really only supposed to be used sparingly.
These are synthetic drugs that involve the injection of a corticosteroid medication into a specific area of the body to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
They mimic the effects of natural corticosteroid hormones created by the adrenal glands and are commonly used to treat a range of inflammatory and painful conditions.
Benefits: It can provide rapid pain relief and it helps to reduce inflammation.
Disadvantages: These injections do not cure the underlying condition but just provide temporary relief. They can have side effects too, including skin thinning, tendon weakening, and even bone thinning.
Whilst not traditional, acupuncture is used by many people to manage a whole range of pain, including ankle discomfort.
It includes the process of a qualified acupuncturist inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote natural healing processes.
It’s believed to release endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers, helping to relieve and reduce pain in the focus area. It’s also said to improve blood circulation which can aid the healing process when more blood is pumped to the injured ankle.
Benefits: Acupuncture is non-invasive and relatively low-risk, making it an attractive choice for those seeking non-surgical treatment for ankle pain.
Disadvantages: It can cost in both time and money, especially as acupuncture will likely require multiple sessions from a qualified and experienced practitioner. Ensuring this person is licensed is paramount, as acupuncture from someone who doesn’t have the qualifications could present various risks.
A physical therapist can evaluate, diagnose, and then treat your ankle pain. They’ll create a plan that is customized to you and could include specific exercises and manual therapies (like more hands-on techniques).
They tend to prescribe a range of exercises and activities to work alongside the plan, with the intention of improving strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and endurance. Pain management is usually recommended too and they’ll let you know which is best for you.
Benefits: Physical therapists are qualified professionals who are able to give individual responses for what will be best for you.
Disadvantages: It could be expensive to keep up several appointments and it’s time-intensive too. It could take many sessions across the plan to achieve the goals you’re hoping for.
Red Light Therapy
Going back to red light therapy as a non-surgical treatment for ankle pain, the usefulness and benefits of RLT are extensive.
It has anti-inflammatory effects and can specifically target the ankle area to reduce swelling, accelerate the healing process, and alleviate pain.
It’s a winner for pain management and relief as well, as it promotes the release of endorphins which are natural painkillers.
Benefits: It’s convenient, non-invasive, has wound-healing qualities, and has the ability to enhance circulation and tissue repair.
Improve Ankle Pain with Kineon
At Kineon, we’re all about helping people get back on their feet and moving pain-free.
This is why we launched the MOVE+ Pro - a safe, non-invasive, and enhanced light therapy device which is the next generation of laser light technology.
We know ankle pain can be really limiting and challenging to live with which is why we’re passionate about our product that is unique in quality and is relied upon by distinguished healthcare professionals and elite athletes.
And we believe in our device so much that we offer a 30-day trial to all those who are interested. If you’re not completely satisfied with the results after 30 days of continuous treatment, we will offer you a refund or further guidance.
All we ask is that you use the MOVE+ Pro consistently for 5 - 15 minutes per day over 4 weeks. Ready to give it a try and help your pain? Check out our light therapy device here.
How to use red light therapy for ankle pain?
With the MOVE+ Pro from Kineon, you’ll have everything you need to make a difference to your ankle pain.
When your device arrives, make sure it’s fully charged or connected to a power source ahead of usage. Familiarize yourself with the device’s controls and instructions provided in the user manual. If you’re unsure at any point, we have a handy online help desk.
Once you’re ready to start treatment, bring the strap around the ankle and position the device. Secure the buckle and adjust the strap to fit.
Make sure the red light panel, which emits therapeutic light, is in direct contact with the skin and check the manual for the recommended therapy time. Stay still and relaxed during the therapy session, allowing the device to emit red light therapy to the ankle. It’s as simple as that!