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Ankle Arthritis

What is Ankle Arthritis?

Ankle arthritis causes pain and leads to disability of the ankle joint. Unlike arthritis of other joints, such as the knee and hip joints, the most common cause of ankle arthritis is post-traumatic. Thus, fracture, dislocation, or sprain of the ankle joint are most cases of ankle arthritis. That is why these conditions lead to joint inflammation and make it difficult to walk and perform other mobile activities.


Causes of Ankle Arthritis

Ankle arthritis is less common compared to knee and hip arthritis. Causes of ankle arthritis include:

  • Post-traumatic arthritis: If you had a fracture, dislocation, or a sprained ankle, you are more likely to develop ankle arthritis.
  • Osteoarthritis: The degeneration of cartilage at the articular surfaces (bone surfaces that form joints) of ankle bones may be the cause of your ankle arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: In this disease, your immune system attacks the delicate membranes of your ankle joints and causes inflammation and arthritis.
  • Other types of arthritis that may affect your ankle joint include gouty arthritis, reactive arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.
  • Obesity and genetics also cause ankle arthritis.

Symptoms of Ankle Arthritis

In ankle arthritis, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain with a motion that flares up with robust activity
  • Tenderness, warmth, redness, and swelling
  • Reduce ability to move, walk and put a weight on the ankle
  • Joint stiffness in the morning, after rest, or after sitting for a while
  • Pain and swelling increase after rest or sitting for a while

Diagnosis of Ankle Arthritis

The diagnosis of ankle arthritis is made based on:

  • Symptoms you present with
  • Medical history of your past injuries, dislocations, fractures, or any other such traumas
  • Physical examination to check for your range of motion, tenderness, etc. The doctor will analyze your stride and the way you walk.
  • X-rays or MRIs to check for bone irritation, inflammation, or loss of joint space
  • Lab tests to check for specific proteins and antibodies that are positive in certain types of arthritis

Prognosis of Ankle Arthritis

Prognosis depends upon the type of arthritis you have. In most cases of arthritis, there is no cure. The treatment options help relieve the symptoms and delay the progression of the disease. If ankle arthritis does not improve with non-surgical options, surgery may be performed.

Treatments of Ankle Arthritis

Your doctor can recommend the following treatments:

  1. Resting and minimizing or modifying activities that aggravate the pain. Also, applying heat and ice may also be effective.
  2. Anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen help relieve pain and swelling. Topical creams are also used to relieve pain and other symptoms.
  3. Physical therapy: It includes strengthening and stretching exercises to increase the range of ankle joint motion, maintain flexibility and stabilize muscles. A physical therapist may help in this regard.
  4. Braces, canes, and arched shoes to support ankle joint

What are the interventional pain managements for Ankle Arthritis?

There are some interventional options:

  1. Intraarticular steroid injection: Many of these arthritis are inflammatory in nature. That is why, steroid injection will be helpful if the pain does not respond to other painkillers.
  2. Platelet Rich Plasma injection: Some arthritis are degenerative or osteoarthritis. That’s why PRP injection with or without hyaluronic acid helps in these situations.

What is the role of surgery?

  • Surgery is the last resort. Surgeries for ankle arthritis include fusion surgery (bones are fused with pins or nails) and joint replacement surgery (for severe cases).