Osteoarthritis Of The Ankle: Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment Options

Posted on: 30 October 2016

Osteoarthritis causes wear and tear to the joints due to cartilage loss and can be caused by injury, ageing and being overweight. Osteoarthritis of the ankle can be debilitating and restrict your mobility, and as it is a degenerative form of arthritis, symptoms tend to worsen without treatment. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options for osteoarthritis of the ankle:


Osteoarthritis affects the joint that connects the ankle and shinbone. As the cushioning provided by the cartilage diminishes, the joint will become swollen and stiff, and this will result in reduced flexibility. Joint pain, particularly when walking, is another common symptom, and the pain usually intensifies the longer you are on your feet.

Diagnosis And Treatment Options

Osteoarthritis of the ankle is diagnosed by examining your ankle and using diagnostic imaging, such as a CT scan or MRI, to assess the condition of the joint cartilage. Your doctor will outline a treatment plan based on the results of the imaging and the severity of your symptoms. Prescription painkillers and anti-inflammatories can be used to bring relief from your symptoms, and corticosteroid injections can be used to reduce severe swelling around the joint.

Orthotic insoles made specifically for your feet can take pressure off the joint by altering the way weight is distributed across your feet. This can help improve blood flow to the ankle, and the nutrients and oxygen contained in your blood can encourage healing of the surrounding area and bring down the inflammation. Additionally, gentle, targeted exercises, such as Achilles stretches and toe pulls, can improve joint flexibility and the strength of the supporting muscles. A physiotherapist can show you safe exercises you can do at home.

If non-surgical treatment approaches haven't reduced your symptoms to a manageable level, you may require surgery. There are two types of surgery for osteoarthritis of the ankle, and your orthopaedic surgeon will make a recommendation based on your scan results. Fusion surgery is a common procedure that uses rods to join the bones together at the joints, which prevents the rubbing that causes your symptoms. Joint replacement surgery uses an artificial implant that functions like a healthy ankle joint. This type of surgery is particularly beneficial to those with severe stiffness and reduced flexibility.

If you're experiencing any of the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis of the ankle, see your doctor as soon as possible to prevent your quality life diminishing any further. 


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