person wearing sneakers rests their feet on blue wall

Ankle arthritis is a condition that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the ankle joint. It is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, the tissue that cushions the bones in the joint.

Ankle arthritis can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Injury to the ankle (multiple sprains, fractures, or infections)
  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Previous ankle surgery
  • Certain medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout

The symptoms of ankle arthritis can vary depending on the severity of the condition. They may include:

  • Pain in the ankle
  • Stiffness in the ankle
  • Swelling in the ankle
  • Difficulty walking or bearing weight on the ankle
  • Crepitation (a crunching or popping sound when the ankle moves)
  • Tenderness around the ankle joint

I can make the diagnosis of ankle arthritis with a physical examination and our in-office imaging tests such as an X-ray, Ultrasound, or PedCAT weightbearing CT scan.

The treatment for ankle arthritis depends on the severity of the condition and your patient age, activity level, and overall health.

Non-surgical treatment

Non-surgical treatment is the first line of treatment for most cases of ankle arthritis. It involves:

  • Rest: Avoiding activities that put stress on the ankle can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Ice: Applying ice to the ankle for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day, can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Compression: Wrapping the ankle with an elastic bandage can help to reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Elevating the ankle above the heart can also help to reduce swelling.
  • Pain medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help to relieve pain. (Use with caution if you have stomach issues, kidney disease, or bleeding problems)
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help to improve range of motion, strength, and flexibility in the ankle.
  • Orthotics/Bracing: Orthotics are custom-made shoe inserts that can help to improve alignment and reduce pain in the ankle. Various off-the-shelf braces or custom braces are available at P.O.W.
  • Rocker-soled Shoes: Consider a stable shoe like a Brooks Ariel/Beast, Hoka Bondi 8, or New Balance 1540/928.
  • Injections: Corticosteroid injections and Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) can help to reduce inflammation and pain in the ankle.

Surgical treatment

Surgical treatment is recommended for patients who have not responded to non-surgical treatment or who have severe pain and disability. There are a number of different surgical procedures that can be used to treat ankle arthritis, including:

  • Ankle fusion: This surgery fuses the bones in the ankle joint together, which eliminates pain and movement in the joint.
  • Ankle replacement (total ankle arthroplasty): This surgery replaces the damaged ankle joint with an artificial joint.
  • Arthroscopy: This minimally invasive surgery can be used to remove damaged cartilage, bone spurs, and other tissue from the ankle joint.

The recovery time for surgical treatment of ankle arthritis varies depending on the type of surgery performed. However, most patients will need to use crutches or a walker for several weeks after surgery.

Which treatment is right for you?

The best treatment for ankle arthritis depends on the individual patient's circumstances. Dr. Prisk will discuss the risks and benefits of both non-surgical and surgical treatment and help you decide which is the best option for you. In addition to the above treatments, there are a number of other things that you can do to help manage ankle arthritis, such as:

  • Losing weight: If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can help to reduce the stress on your ankle joint. Consider seeing Dr. Sherman for medically assisted weight loss.
  • Exercising regularly: Exercise can help to improve range of motion, strength, and flexibility in the ankle, which can help to reduce pain and improve function.
  • Avoiding high-impact activities: High-impact activities, such as running and jumping, can put a lot of stress on the ankle joint. Avoiding these activities can help to prevent further damage to the joint.
  • Using a cane or walker: Using a cane or walker can help to reduce the amount of weight that is put on the ankle joint.

If you are experiencing pain, stiffness, or swelling in your ankle, it is important to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and discuss treatment options. With the right treatment, you can manage ankle arthritis and maintain your quality of life.

Visit Me at P.O.W. call 412-525-7692 for an appointment.