Ankle Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

The ankle, or the tibiotalar joint, connects the leg and foot. It comprises of various bones, muscles, blood vessels, tendons and ligaments. The joint bears maximum body weight, helps maintain body balance and absorbs external shocks while running, standing and walking. The bones are protected by a thick cartilage which prevents them from rubbing against each other. Ankle Arthritis is characterized by damage or gradual wearing out of this cartilage.

Listed below are the different types of Arthritis that may affect the ankle joint:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis- It is a chronic condition which may result in joint inflammation. In this, the body’s immune system starts attacking the synovial membrane which protects the joint
  • Osteoarthritis- This is the most common form of Arthritis which is characterized by the damage caused to the cartilage within the joint. As a result, the bones tend to rub against each other and get damaged
  • Juvenile Arthritis- It is commonly seen in young people less than the age of 16 years
  • Gout- A type of Arthritis that occurs when level of uric acid in the blood increases and starts depositing within the joint spaces in the form of hard crystals
  • Infectious Arthritis- Bacterial, fungal or viral infection in the blood may lead to this type of Arthritis. It is also known as Septic Arthritis.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis- A type of arthritis which is accompanied or preceded by a skin disease, Psoriasis

Causes

  • Degeneration of joint due to aging
  • External injury or trauma to the joint may develop Arthritis over a period of time
  • Infection
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Inherent misalignments in bone or joint structure
  • Bone dislocation/fracture
  • Ligament and tendon tear

Symptoms

  • Excruciating pain
  • Loss of movement
  • Swelling
  • The joint may feel tender when touched
  • Visible Deformity
  • Redness
  • Difficulty in weight bearing
  • Stiffness in the joint, particularly in the morning
  • Feeling of warmth around the joint
  • Pain tends to flare up after prolonged or vigorous physical activity

Diagnosis

  • Detailed clinical examination of the joint
  • The orthopedic doctor may analyze the patient’s symptoms and medical history
  • Evaluation of changes in gait
  • X-ray may be conducted to assess bone damage
  • Blood tests to identify the type of Arthritis
  • MRI and CT scan may be done to reveal soft tissue damage

Treatment
The non-surgical methods of treatment may include:

  • Lifestyle modification to reduce activities that aggravate pain
  • Incorporating light exercises to maintain joint and muscle strength
  • Weight loss may be recommended to prevent putting pressure on the joint
  • Ankle foot orthosis (AFO) may be used to improve joint stability
  • Shoe inserts and walking cane may be helpful
  • Physical therapy may also be recommended to increase ankle strength
  • Prescription of anti-inflammatory medicines

Surgical methods may include:

  • Arthroscopic Debridement- removal of damaged cartilage and other parts using arthroscopic techniques
  • Bone fusion or Arthrodesis- The affected bones may be combined together using plates, wires or screws to cease their movement and prevent rubbing against each other. It helps to relieve pain and prevent the condition from worsening.
  • Total ankle replacement or Arthroplasty may be recommended for patients with advanced stage of Ankle Arthritis

For diagnosis and treatment of Ankle Arthritis, visit OrthoTexas. To schedule an appointment with the foot and ankle specialists in Flower Mound, TX, you can call at (972) 899 – 4679.

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