Arthritis In Ankle: Causes Symptoms and Treatment Options

Arthritis may occur in any of the joints present in the body. Among the various joints, the ankle joint is also an important joint which is least affected by arthritis problem.

The ankle joint is formed by the help of two different bones. One bone is present in the shin area or the shaft of the leg which is called as tibia and the other bone is present in the ankle region only which is called as the talus. These two bones together form the tibiotalar joint.

What Are The Major Causes of Ankle Arthritis?

ankle arthritis

  • Trauma or any injury of the ankle joint causes inflammation of the joint which leads to arthritis. Some of the major injuries which creates ankle arthritis is ankle joint fracture, ankle joint cartilage damage, etc. When the bone involvement is there in case of ankle joint injury then it may cause osteonecrosis which also results in ankle arthritis.
  • In case of diabetes, corn foot, septic injury of the ankle joint, etc. the cartilage present around the ankle joint will get damage which finally ends with the formation of ankle arthritis.
  • In certain cases the arthritis of ankle will be present from birth onwards. Thus we can conclude that the ankle arthritis may occur even due to hereditary reasons also.
  • In case of excessive body weight problems like overweight or obesity, the ankle arthritis will occur. Our whole body weight is managed by our both legs only. In case of overweight and obesity the legs will be overburdened. Among the various joints of the legs the knee joint and ankle joint gets more affected in such case.
  • The major and the primary symptom that appears in case of ankle arthritis is pain around the ankle joint.
  • Followed by pain the patients will be complaining of swelling and due to this continuous stiffness will be seen in the ankle joint area.
  • The bone spur formation also will be seen in case of ankle arthritis which further aggravates the intensity of pain in the individual.
  • All these symptoms collectively cause partial deformity with the individual like the person’s gait will get altered partially or totally.
  • The less common symptoms are also felt in certain cases like numbness in the soles and toes, tingling sensation in the feet, irritation in the soles, etc.

What Are The Common Ankle Arthritis Symptoms?

People having arthritis in foot or ankle do experience, in altering degrees, one or more of following symptoms:

  • Pain & stiffness in joint
  • Swelling in or around joint
  • Difficulty in walking or in bending joint

Some patients who have arthritis also develop bone spur or a bony protrusion at affected joint. The shoe pressure may result pain at site of bone spur and in a few cases calluses or blisters may form above its surface. The bone spurs also limit movement of joint.

Best Ankle Arthritis Treatment Options

The primary treatment measure which most of the people try and even most of the doctor’s suggest their patient is changing the footwear. In most of the case just by simple changing of the footwear causes maximum pain reduction, even it may cure the problem gradually.

The next treatment measure for ankle arthritis is changing the activity or gait modification. At times in most of the ankle arthritis conditions, balancing the whole body by standing on both legs equally will help to reduce the pain enormously and the problem will be rectified permanently by doing so.

Foot and the ankle surgeon will examine foot thoroughly and will look for any swelling in joint, any limited mobility or pain with the movement. In a few cases, enlargement and / or deformity of joint will be noted. X-rays may be helpful to evaluate extent of disease.

For helping in relieving symptoms, surgeon may start treating the arthritis with one or more of following non-surgical approaches:

Oral medications: The Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs like ibuprofen are used in lessening pain and inflammation. Steroid medication will also be needed at times to reduce symptoms.

Orthotic devices: Orthotic devices or shoe inserts are prescribed that are custom made to suit the individual and help in reducing pain by providing proper support.

Braces for ankle arthritis: Bracing restricts motion and also supports joint and reduces pain during walking. It also helps in preventing further deformity. In most cases Wearing best brace for ankle arthritis will also help to stabilize the ankle joint which in turn helps in effective reduction  of the ankle arthritis.

Immobilization: Immobilization by wearing cast or other removable cast-boot will be necessary to permit inflammation to resolve.

Steroid injections: These are needed in some cases and are applied to affected joint for delivering anti-inflammatory medication.

Physical therapy: Exercises, especially for ankle can strengthen muscles and give patient greater stability and also help in avoiding injury that worsens condition.

Is Surgery Needed? When the osteoarthritis progresses substantially or fails to improve with the non-surgical treatment, surgery will be recommended.