Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can affect the joints in any part of the body, including the ankle. With this type of arthritis, the cartilage, a tough but flexible tissue that covers the ends of the bones where joints form, will begin to wear away gradually. Diagnosing and treating ankle arthritis as soon as possible can aid people to manage and alleviate their symptoms.
Unlike osteoarthritis that develops in the hip or knee, ankle osteoarthritis is about nine times less common. The most frequent reason being previous trauma from an injury. Traumatic injuries to the ankle, such as various types of ankle fractures, are undeniably the most common reason for developing arthritis of the ankle joint. Its believed that this type of arthritis develops after injury due to the damage the cartilage may have received at the time. Post-traumatic ankle osteoarthritis usually develops within 2 years of the injury.
Ankle arthritis most commonly causes pain around the joint. The pain associated with this condition is most often the reason people seek treatment. Other common symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis include swelling around the ankle joint, followed by stiffness and deformity of the ankle due to inflammation. Bone spurs may develop, causing the joint to appear lumpy. Instability is also a common symptom of ankle osteoarthritis, where the individual may experience feeling like their joint is “giving out”. Less unlikely, this type of arthritis on the ankle can lead to irritation of the nerves surrounding the joint, causing tingling and numbness in the feet and toes.
An individual can achieve relief for their ankle osteoarthritis through simple activity modification and lifestyle changes. A footwear change offering cushioned support for the feet and ankles can help alleviate the symptoms. Also, limiting impact activities, such as running and jumping, is an important part of treatment for a quicker recovery. If these treatments can’t relieve the symptoms associated with the condition, invasive treatments such as surgery may be considered.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
The information herein on "Ankle Arthritis" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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