Dealing with Ankle Arthritis

Arthritis is common, but misunderstood. People think of it as a single disease, but it really is a way of referring to joint pain or joint inflammation. There are over 100 different types of arthritis and it is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. Over 50 million American adults have some type of arthritis.

At the Foot & Ankle Institute, we’re primarily concerned with arthritis of the ankles and feet. This blog details some information about ankle arthritis.

What leads to ankle arthritis?

Ankle arthritis usually results from a history of trauma to the ankle. This can be a severe injury such as a bad ankle fracture, or a series of recurring injuries. Less typical, it can develop from problems with inherent skeletal issues that create uneven loading between the feet; from rheumatoid arthritis; crystal arthritis such as gout; or even from a serious joint infection.

Ankle arthritis occurs when there has been damage to the joint cartilage that normally covers the bones of the ankle joint. There can be a loss of cartilage leading to arthritis, as well.

What are the symptoms of ankle arthritis?

Ankle pain, stiffness, and swelling are characteristic symptoms of ankle arthritis. Walking and standing can be painful. “Start-up” pain is typical after the patient has been sleeping or sitting in one spot for a period of time. The ankle will tend to swell more as the day progresses. Pain can be felt throughout the ankle, but often feels more noticeable in the front of the ankle if bone spurs have formed.

How we treat ankle arthritis

Dr. Watson’s goal for treatment of his patients with ankle arthritis is to minimize the pain and discomfort and improve overall function. Usually, non-operative treatments are tried first, but can progress to surgery, if needed.

Non-operative treatments are designed to limit the force going through the ankle joint, to limit the movement through the ankle joint, and to minimize the pain.

At the Foot & Ankle Institute, our non-operative treatments may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Glucosamine sulfate
  • Hyaluronic acid injections
  • Ankle lacer/boot to limit motion
  • Comfort shoes with a stiff sole and a rocker-bottom to disperse the force when walking
  • Cushioned shock-absorbing orthotics
  • Cane for use in the opposite hand to decrease the force loaded onto the ankle when walking
  • Weight loss program
  • Physiotherapy and home exercises
  • Activity moderation

When non-operative treatments fail to provide adequate relief, these are some of the surgical alternatives used by Dr. Watson:

  • Ankle debridement
  • Ankle fusion (ankle arthrodesis)
  • Ankle replacement (ankle arthroplasty)
  • Realignment of deformities

If your ankle or ankles are a constant source of pain, limiting your activity, call Dr. Watson at the Foot & Ankle Institute, 702-731-1616, and schedule a consultation.

Posted in: Ankle Pain and Treatment, Uncategorized

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