Ankle arthritis can be a very painful condition that will progressively worsen if left untreated.
This inflammation of the ankle joint produces pain, swelling and a general stiff feeling that can make walking and exercising uncomfortable.
There are two main types of arthritis that affect the ankles:
- Osteoarthritis and
- rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the more common version, which causes the gradual breakdown and loss of cartilage in the ankle joints.
That's not a good thing, since cartilage cushions your bones every time you move and prevents them from rubbing together.
When that cartilage wears away, it can seriously impact daily life and make walking quite painful.
Unfortunately, osteoarthritis often comes with age from the general wear and tear of life.
It can appear just about anywhere there's a joint - in the hands, hips, knees, feet, elbows, ankles, fingers...
Ankle osteoarthritis may appear as a result of injury, such as a broken ankle or recurring ankle instability, but it often appears so long after the injury that the connection is not apparent.
There is also a correlation between arthritis and the chronic inflammation of gout and frequent bleeding of hemophilia.
We diagnose ankle arthritis through a physical examination, and we might order X-rays or other diagnostic imaging to get a better look.
There are several options for treatment, including custom orthotics to provide support and cushion the joint, ankle braces to restrict motion and support the joints, and physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the joint. We may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or steroid injections to minimize painful inflammation.
In some advanced cases when other treatment options have failed to reduce the pain, surgery may be necessary to minimize the pain and improve the ankle's functioning.