Micro-dislocating Ankle Joint

I woke up last Monday unable to move my right ankle. It wasn't just stiff, it hurt. It was a very familiar feeling -- something I've had happen several times over the past few years. I'm not exactly sure what is happening inside the ankle, but it feels as if a bone has moved out of place, creating the same type of pain I have experienced after dislocating my ankle (of which has happened several times to both of my ankles).

Whenever this "micro-dislocation" has happened in the past, I was simply sitting down in a chair with my feet relaxed. Suddenly I would feel extreme pain in my ankle, as if it was slipping out. The pain wouldn't stop right away but would continue, even after I take pressure off the foot. I would quickly "push" it back into position disregarding the extreme pain, and after hearing a few clicks the pain would instantly subside. I tried this same technique after waking up last week, but it didn't work.

For the first few days, I had to limp around. It was too painful to walk normally. Climbing stairs felt awkward. After moving around for a few days with a dysfunctional ankle, my knee and hip started to suffer as well, since those joints were not being used properly. By Thursday, my ankle had become quite swollen. So, I iced it every morning after that and by Saturday the swelling was gone.

I forced myself to try and walk normally, but the pain was hard to ignore. I stretched it several times a day, but it felt as if there was something more than stiffness causing the pain. By Sunday evening, I was starting to wonder if I should have a doctor look at it.

This Monday morning I woke up and to my amazement, my ankle had returned to normal. I tried stretching it in several different directions which had caused extreme pain all week and I wasn't able to recreate any pain! Exactly one week: I woke up last Monday morning with extreme pain, one week went by, and then I woke up yesterday to discover the pain gone. I don't know how else to describe this other than a "micro-dislocation".

The whole week I was telling myself how I will start, and stick to, a regular exercise routine as soon as my ankle gets better. I didn't realize how fortunate I was until I lost the functionality of what I took for granted. What better wake up message than to be crippled for one week and then just as quickly be given another chance.

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  1. “I didn’t realize how fortunate I was until I lost the functionality of what I took for granted”

    “Ain’t that the truth…” Since I fell on my elbow, after 1 week I figured it wouldn’t hurt anymore; I was wrong. It’s been almost 3 weeks and I still have a bruise.

    But I have noticed that I need to stretch it more, it was getting stiff. I just have to remember when it does feel better, to still take it easy. The last time it felt better, I used it and it felt horrible again.

  2. Yes, stretching is incredibly important, not only after injury but throughout life. What we don’t use, we lose. Stretching helps remind our body that all the functions are still needed! It also helps circulate blood throughout the body.

    [gets up from chair and starts stretching]

  3. Hey bro that is what I’m going through right now! Sitting down all of the sudden sharp pain shoots up from my left ankle. Maybe its from all sports I do and spraining both ankles at least a dozen times. What I’ve using on and off is a ankle support by McDavid, it laces up and have velcro wraps to secure the ankle. Try it when the pain comes back it helps a lot when you have to move around as much as I do at work. I was wondering if there’s any stretching/workout routines I can do to limit it from happening again.

  4. Hey Narith,

    There are a couple of really good exercises that can be done to strengthen the ankles. Here is one that really helps strengthen the outside of the ankle:

    With your right ankle, pull your toes up towards your knee as far as you can — at the same time try to pull the heel (of the same foot) out and up towards your knee as well. This should create an indent in your calf muscle, between the muscle and the bone. The indent is an indication that you’re doing it properly.

    You can flex this motion back and forth, as it exercises all the muscles on the outside of the ankle. Its good to try and do this as much as possible — even make a habit out of it.

    Hope your ankle feels better!

  5. I’m dealing with this currently. I’ve had it happen before but not for a while. I was taking off my slippers just now before climbing into bed and the act of the slipper coming off my heel was enough to micro-dislocate it – the heel from the ankle. “Micro-dislocation”….great term -describes it to a T. I’m in bed and the only thing I can do is to keep downward pressure on my heel with my leg bent & foot flexed. As soon as I try to move it or lay it flat it “pulls” the joint apart and pinches various nerves. So painful! I’m stuck here until further notice. ?
    I’m hoping I fall asleep and wake up with the ankle back in place. I also have two connective tissue diseases which could be to blame. So glad I found someone else who put into words what I’ve experienced for the last two decades. Thank you.

    • I’m sorry to hear that, Eileen! I hope your ankle is feeling better. I’ve learned that certain positions are more likely to micro-dislocate my ankle and over time I’ve built a conscious habit to avoid those positions as much as possible. Thankfully I haven’t felt the micro-dislocation in over a year now.