Ankle osteoarthritis can affect any of the 3 bones of the ankle joint. As a degenerative joint disease, the cartilage gradually wears out.
In most cases of ankle osteoarthritis, it is typically linked with a previous ankle injury. The injury might have occurred years before there is proof of osteoarthritis in the joint. The injury can impair the cartilage directly or disrupt with the mechanics of the ankle joint.
Aside from injury, other risk factors that can add up to the formation of osteoarthritis include:
- Overweight due to the weight on the joints
- Flatfoot which affects how the individual walks and adds strain on the ankle joint
What are the signs?
The main sign linked with ankle osteoarthritis is ankle pain. Primarily, the discomfort is present during movement or activity. As the condition progresses, discomfort is even present while at rest.
Other indications might include:
- Joint stiffness and swelling
- Diminished flexibility
- Difficulty walking
- Reduced range of motion
- Difficulty with weight bearing
Management of ankle osteoarthritis
The treatment for ankle osteoarthritis is focused on controlling the pain and limiting movement that triggers the pain. The conservative measures are used first. If not effective, surgery is considered.
The conservative measures include:
- Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Customized rocker bottom shoes
- Physical therapy
- Ankle brace or orthotic
- Dietary supplements such as chondroitin and glucosamine
- Steroid shots into the joint
In case surgery is considered, some of the options include arthroscopic surgery, ankle replacement and ankle fusion.