Sudden frozen ankle when walking and running

by Andrea

ankle mortise and subtalar joints.

ankle mortise and subtalar joints.

For as long as I can remember my ankle has occasionally frozen particularly when I am running or walking quickly or walking up and down stairs. Until recently this has only caused me to stumble slightly then the ankle is ok to walk on again within seconds. However a couple of days ago I was walking down a set of stone steps when my ankle 'froze' and I was completely unable to weight bear, resulting in me falling down the steps and grazing and bruising my knee and elbow.

The whole leg is now sore for obvious reasons but the ankle has frozen twice more today whilst just walking at a normal pace. I am a 33 year old female who is fairly active and healthy. I am a normal weight, have mild well controlled asthma and some mild allergies, hay fever, dogs, cats etc.

My mother has rheumatoid arthritis. I have recently taken up running at a beginner level (1 min run then 1 min walk ten times).

I have a GP appointment next week but would like to know whether to continue with the running training in the mean time, I'm also concerned about mum's arthritis being hereditary. Thank you.

Hello Andrea,
Clearly something is happening deep in your ankle; what's good in the past the jamming has relieved itself, of itself, without treatment; nevertheless it was a warning that there probably more to come.

I'm going to stick my neck out, because I can't be sure, but I think this is unrelated to your mother's rheumatoid; yes, it certainly does run in families, but this isn't typical. Do you have any swelling in your fingers, particularly the PIP joint? Google the term.

This is an aside, but there's an explosion of these autoimmune diseases in the Western world. No one is quite sure of the cause, there are probably several reasons, but I am of the opinion that our typical modern diet is largely to blame. Eat the way your grandmother did, and not the way your mother does, is my advice.

That means spending a lot more time at the green grocer, and avoiding the processed convenience food that is so tempting these days.

Also google the anti inflammatory diet, and read up on the omega 6/ omega 3 ratio; it's good stuff anyway, but greatly reduces the chances of suffering like your mother does.

Seeing this has been going on for so long, I'd recommend you ask your doctor for an x-ray of the ankle. It probably won't show anything unless you had a long forgotten sprain.

What is most probably happening is a subtle subluxation of the either the ankle mortise, or subtalar joints. It gives incredibly sharp stabs of pain deep in the ankle when walking.

Often that will reduce of itself, but I'd now start doing our alphabet ankle exercises on a daily basis. A light ankle guard just whilst out running might help.

These subluxations can usually be reduced very simply by a skilled chiropractor who works regularly with ankles and feet; look for someone with a FICS post graduate sports qualification. You may be in for an occasional but regular treatment, say once a month, perhaps two; a small price to pay for being able to walk and run; and prevent an inevitable knock on affect in your pelvis and lower back.

Good luck, I hope this helps.

Dr B

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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