When you develop arthritis in your ankle, you have a degenerative condition that can develop slowly over time and continue to worsen. Without treatment or other measures that slow or stop its progression, ankle arthritis can take over your life and make it difficult to do your favorite activities.
Depending on the stage of your ankle arthritis, different sophisticated, cutting-edge treatments can dramatically reduce your symptoms and bring back your active lifestyle. Learn from Thomas Rambacher, DPM, FACFAS, FAPWCA, at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle in Mission Viejo, California, how arthritis can affect your ankle.
What is arthritis in the ankle?
Arthritis is a condition you can get in any joint when the cartilage starts to break down and thin out, leaving your joints with no padding when it moves. This causes the joint to develop pain, swelling, and tenderness, with symptoms increasing as the condition progresses.
The ankle is one of the most common places to develop arthritis because it’s a part of your body that bears your weight whenever you walk. It is particularly common if you are very active, obese, or in your mid-40s or older.
Symptoms of ankle arthritis include:
- Ankle pain
- Swelling in your ankle
- Tenderness when touching the ankle
- Difficulty bearing weight on the ankle
- Pain during ankle movement
Often, the stiffness, swelling, and pain get worse after you wake up in the morning or have been sedentary for a long period.
Stages of ankle arthritis
Ankle arthritis is a degenerative condition that worsens over time, especially without treatment. The stages of ankle arthritis range from stages I to IV, depending on how serious the damage is to your ankle.
In stage I, damage to your cartilage hasn’t caused narrowing in the space between your joint bones yet. As your ankle arthritis worsens, the joint space narrows until they have no space between them in stage IV, causing pain and limited mobility in your ankle.
Ankle arthritis treatment
Treatment for ankle arthritis depends on the stage your arthritis is at, as well as the impact on your quality of life. In the early stages, Dr. Rambacher often recommends conservative treatment to ease symptoms and help prevent your condition from worsening.
Conservative ankle arthritis treatments include medication, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, special shoes, and custom orthotics.
If the damage in your ankle is more severe, Dr. Rambacher performs advanced surgical procedures to treat your arthritis.
Ankle replacement surgery
If your ankle joint is severely damaged from arthritis, Dr. Rambacher can replace it with an artificial implant that functions just like your ankle before it developed arthritis. This relieves the pain, swelling, and damage you previously experienced with your original ankle joint.
Ankle fusion surgery
In ankle fusion surgery, Dr. Rambacher takes the two joints in your ankle, the talus and calcaneus, and fuses them together. This stops them from rubbing against each other and offers relief from the pain, swelling, and mobility problems caused by severe ankle arthritis.
Dr. Rambacher can also treat some forms of more severe arthritis with stem cell therapy. This is regenerative treatment helps your body heal and regrow fresh, healthy cartilage in your ankle joint.
No matter how severe your ankle arthritis has become, there are a number of treatments available that can improve your life. Contact us today to learn more about your options.