Ankle Arthritis: Symptoms Causes and Diagnosing

Dr. Baravarian discusses ankle arthritis causes and treatment options.

What's Ankle Arthritis?

Ankle arthritis, a form of osteoarthritis, is a degenerative condition in which the articular cartilage of the ankle joint wears thin and eventually breaks down.

 

Without cartilage to protect the bones from the friction of motion, the bones fragment and spurs begin to develop, causing pain and stiffness in the joint

 

When you choose University Foot and Ankle Institute, you're entrusting your care to a team with internationally recognized expertise and decades of combined experience treating ankle arthritis and returning patients to their formerly active life.

Causes of Ankle Arthritis

Understanding the cause of your ankle arthritis can help your foot and ankle specialist to prescribe the right course of treatment for you. Ankle arthritis most commonly results from one of two causes: joint trauma, or an underlying medical condition.

 

Trauma. A previous sprain or fracture can leave the ankle more prone to arthritis. An ankle that has been subject to some sort of trauma is around 7 times more likely to develop arthritis. As many as 80% of cases of ankle arthritis can be classified as “post-trauma arthritis.” Although the original sprain or fracture may have healed, physiological changes can take place in the ankle to compensate for the injury, resulting in osteoarthritis several years down the road.

 

Underlying Medical Condition. Between 10-15% of cases of ankle arthritis are caused by an underlying medical condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, congenital structural defects, blood disorders, and conditions that cause poor circulation. These conditions do not always cause arthritis, but they do make the condition more likely.

 

The degeneration in the joint is gradual, and there is no cure. Although many aging adults dismiss the pain in there ankle as another sign of “old age,” or of an old injury “acting up,” it’s important to seek help for chronic ankle pain. There are a number of treatments that can slow the progress of ankle arthritis, relieve pain, and keep patients on their feet.

 

Symptoms of Ankle Arthritis

Symptoms of ankle arthritis usually develop gradually, and worsen with time and overuse.

  • Pain. Ankle arthritis can cause pain in the ankle, lower shin, mid-foot, and/or rearfoot, and can be dull or acute, chronic or intermittent.
  • Pain after activity. Walking or jogging can cause pain and swelling in the joint.
  • Swelling. As the cartilage wears thin, friction caused by regular ankle motion irritates the joint, causing swelling and discomfort.
  • Stiffness. The increased friction between bones can stiffen the joint, making simple foot functions like pointing and flexing the toes more difficult. The stiffness tends to worsen after long periods of inactivity.
  • Ankle popping. Known as crepitus, the ankle popping with each step is a sure sign of osteoarthritis.

 

Diagnosing Ankle Arthritis

Diagnosing Ankle Arthritis
UFAI is one of only a handful of clinics in California with weight bearing CT technology.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of ankle arthritis, make an appointment with a UFAI specialist today.

 

Arthritis can be diagnosed with a full medical history, a physical exam, and advanced imaging technology. Your physician will examine your ankle for swelling, tenderness, joint damage, bone spurs, and a loss of range of motion.

 

Typically one or more tests are performed to confirm an osteoarthritis diagnosis.

  • X-ray and radiograph. Although an X-ray can reveal signs of joint damage, it is not the most reliable indicator of osteoarthritis. However, it can aid in making a diagnosis along with a physical exam.
  • MRI. An MRI can provide a more complete picture of the location and degree of cartilage loss.
  • Arthrocentesis. In this procedure, a sample of joint fluid is extracted through a needle. The fluid is then tested to rule out other conditions.
  • 3D pedCAT. The pedCAT is a weight-bearing CT scanning machine that produces a 3D image and allows your specialist to identify points of stress on your ankle while standing. 

 

UFAI, the Right Choice for Ankle Arthritis Treatment

When you choose the University Foot and Ankle Institute for you ankle arthritis treatment, you can rest assure that you have chosen a compassionate team of experts with decades of combined experience. Out team of physicians use state-of-the-art equipment, work directly with medical manufacturers to develop new technologies are one of the few foot and ankle practices in the nation that offer the latest treatment options for all stages of ankle arthritis.

 

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