What is ankle arthritis?

Arthritis is a general term for ankle inflammation/injury.  Arthritis can involve damage to the cartilage inside the joint, or it can refer to bone spurs around a joint.  Ankle arthritis usually develops over several years from injuries such as recurrent ankle sprains and ankle trauma.  When people have ankle arthritis, the inside cartilage of the ankle joint can be damaged, diminished, or absent.  They also can have bone spurs around the ankle joint.

What are treatment options for ankle arthritis?

People suffering from ankle arthritis have limited treatment options. 

Conservative options:

Conservative (meaning non-surgical) treatment options include wearing a rigid ankle brace to prevent ankle joint movement.  High-top boots and shoes also can help prevent ankle joint motion and decrease ankle arthritis pain.  Cortisone injections, although helpful with decreasing inflammation in and around the ankle joint, do not help with healing and only help for short periods of time.  NSAIDS such as Aleve or Motrin also are helpful in decreasing inflammation and pain, but do not help with healing the ankle arthritis.  

Hyaluronic acid injections

Hyaluronic acid injections are performed in the knee and hip joints with great results, and this is an option for ankle joint pain as well.  Hyaluronic acid injections help with reducing the pressure on the joint as well as help heal the inner lining of the joint.  Check out this article regarding hyaluronic acid injections into the ankle joint.  If you have ankle arthritis and are interested in finding out if you are a candidate for these injections, call our office for an appointment.

Surgical options:

Often, when the ankle arthritis is severe, such as loss of cartilage and the ankle joint is bone-on-bone, the treatment options include fusion of the ankle joint.  Although ankle joint replacements are another option, there is a high failure rate, and therefore not advised. 

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