Ankle Arthritis

Ankle arthritis overview

Ankle arthritis is a condition that affects the bones around the ankle joint when the cartilage becomes worn or damaged. Cartilage allows the bones to move against each other without excessive friction and when it becomes damaged the bones rub together causing pain, stiffness and swelling.

Foot and ankle arthritis types

Broadly there are three types of Arthritis of the ankle:

  • Osteoarthritis: predominantly occurs in people over the age of 50 and is caused by normal wear and tear of the cartilage over time.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, particularly the soft tissue in the joints, known as synovium.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis: results from an injury that causes premature deterioration of the joint. This may take a long time to develop and the injury may be quite old before the arthritis occurs.

Ankle arthritis symptoms and diagnosis

Symptoms typically include:

  • Joint tenderness
  • Pain on movement
  • Difficulty when moving or putting weight on the foot
  • Stiffness, swelling and a warm feeling
  • Pain and swelling after rest

Rheumatoid arthritis often occurs symmetrically, meaning that usually both ankle joints are affected at the same time.

Ankle arthritis treatment and prevention

Depending on the underlying cause of the arthritis there are several treatments that could be recommended, including:

  • Pain relief, such as NSAID’s
  • Pads, arch supports or shoe inserts to stabilise your foot (orthotics)
  • Physiotherapy
  • Steroid injections

Lifestyle Changes for Foot Arthritis

Many symptoms can be alleviated by changes that you can make to your life style or daily routines. This might include avoiding certain types of exercise, using warm or cold compresses or weight loss. Your specialist will be able to advise you on strategies that could improve your symptoms.

Ankle Arthritis Surgery

Should conservative treatments fail to improve symptoms, surgery may be the recommended treatment.