ZocdocAnswersIs chronic pain caused by nerve damage?

Question

Is chronic pain caused by nerve damage?

Injured my ankle when I was a teenager and I'm 29 now. I still have pain in the ankle and it aches a lot of the time, even if I'm not moving it. What could cause this chronic pain? Is it nerve damage? Do you have to have a damaged nerve for chronic pain like this?

Answer

This is unfortunately a very common problem. If sprains of the ankle are not treated properly, or if you do not heal in the proper way, the sprain can cause a chronic pain syndrome in that ankle. This is almost certainly what has happened to you. We do not know exactly why this happens. It is possible that you had nerve damage at the time which is now manifesting as chronic pain. It is also possible that the ligaments in your ankle did not heal quite properly and this has resulted in this pain. The best thing to do for your ankle at this point may be physical therapy. You can start by seeing your primary care physician (family doctor or internal medicine doctor). Your doctor will want to examine your ankles carefully to make sure there is nothing obvious wrong that need surgical attention. Physical therapy works best if done within a few weeks of the injury. However, it would not hurt to give it a try and see if your pain improves after a few sessions. Your doctor can give you a physical therapy referral if he or she thinks it is warranted. If none of this helps, then your doctor may give you a referral to see an orthopedic surgeon.

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