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Discover the link between
Ankle Arthritis and Ankle Pain

Arthritis is a familiar condition especially as you get older. Degenerative arthritis can develop in any joint in the body.  Arthritis is a progressive condition which causes pain, swelling, and of impaired function in the involved joint. 

Although the ankle is relatively resistant, arthritis can still set in. Ankle arthritis may result from trauma and ankle injury.  Ankle injuries such as fractures, and repetitive sports injuries and sprains are also culprits in developing degenerative arthritis.

In addition, some patients may develop ankle arthritis from their usual daily activities and life, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout.

When the ankle’s joint cartilage is worn away, then the underlying bones are exposed.

When that happens, the bones grind together with any motions such as walking and running. This chronic grinding can result in swelling, pain, and immobility.

However, it’s not just the loss of joint cartilage that’s the issue. Patients can develop secondary deformity, when the joint completely loses its usual functionality.

This can lead to excruciating pain, difficulty standing and walking, or even complete loss of joint’s ability to bear your weight.

Arthritis Around the Ankle

At times, there may be arthritis in the lower ankle joint (subtalar joint), or the midfoot joints. It’s important to assess these joints with both radiographs and CT scans (computerized x-rays). 

Your surgeon may also conduct extra clinical tests for more information. In these cases, they may inject selective local anesthetic into these joints to evaluate the intensity of the pain from the suspected arthritic condition. 

At the end of the day, this condition is best assessed on a case-by-case basis after the radiographs and advanced imaging are completed.

Treatment Options for Ankle Arthritis

There are a range of non-operative interventions that can be used to treat ankle arthritis. These non-surgical treatments include intermittent ice therapy, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen, and steroid injections into the joint. Hyaluronic acid injections are also beneficial for knee arthritis, but there are not FDA approved for the ankle.

External braces of the ankle, or shoe modifications, may also prove helpful. The latest medical innovations also make it possible to introduce stem cell injections directly into the joint. Although it’s not clear if these stem cell injections regrow cartilage in the joint, but they serve to reduce any pain and swelling. All of these options are often utilized initially before any surgery is done. 

For some patients, palliative surgeries are useful in delaying more intensive surgeries like ankle fusion and ankle replacement. Arthroscopic surgery is often used to remove problematic scar tissue and bone spurs to give the patient a short-term improvement in their pain.  The indications for arthroscopic surgery and whether it may be appropriate for you is determined on a cases by cases basis.

As the pain and mobility worsens more definitive surgeries are required for a permanent resolution of this condition. Ankle replacement and in some cases an ankle fusion are needed to address the degenerative painful joint. In some cases where the  joints adjacent to the ankle (subtalar, midtarsal) are both arthritic and severely painful, those joints will likely be included in the surgical solution.

Overcome your Ankle Arthritis and Ankle Pain!

You should now understand the connection between ankle arthritis and ankle pain. There are many treatment options that are available to relieve your ankle pain.

Feel free to contact us at the offices of Dr. Shannon Rush to set up your consultation with him.

Don’t suffer through the pain – choose to be pain-free.

Please reach out to us right now.