Ankle Arthritis Treatment
Ankle arthritis is far less prevalent than arthritis affecting other joints, such as the knee and hip. However, ankle arthritis can certainly be equally debilitating and painful and often requires treatment by a specialist.
Ankle arthritis is most common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or in patients with a previous injury to the ankle joint.
Treatment of ankle arthritis should always begin with simple steps including:
One of the simplest steps to take is to try some shoe modifications. Cushioned inserts can help alleviate symptoms. Another helpful step is to have a shoe repair specialist add a 'rocker-bottom' to the sole of the shoe.
Activity modification is an important part of treatment, and those unwilling to change their lifestyle generally should not consider surgical treatments for ankle arthritis.
A brace can help hold the ankle joint in position and will support the joint and prevent excessive motion.
Arthroscopic orthopaedic surgery can be useful in patients with limited ankle arthritis, but it is usually ineffective for more extensive ankle arthritis. Ankle arthroscopy is most helpful when small bone spurs have developed around the joint causing "impingement," or the bone spur becoming pinched when the ankle moves up and down. During arthroscopic surgery, the bone spur can be shaved to promote motion of the joint.
Unfortunately, if the ankle arthritis is more extensive, arthroscopic surgery will likely be unhelpful. When a significant amount of the cartilage has worn away, the joint will not benefit from an arthroscopic procedure.
Ankle fusion surgery is an ankle arthritis treatment for severe arthritis of the joint. In an ankle fusion surgery, the damaged joint is removed, and the ankle is secured in a proper position. The ankle fusion then permanently holds the joint in this position, alleviating pain, but eliminating motion of the joint. Ankle fusion is the most commonly performed procedure for severe arthritis.
Some patients may also be suitable for ankle replacement surgery.