5 Common Signs of Ankle Arthritis

5 Common Signs of Ankle Arthritis

Your ankles undergo a lot of wear-and-tear throughout your life. While this doesn’t always end up with chronic pain, sometimes, ankle arthritis is the result. Arthritis in your ankles can truly be debilitating, so knowing the signs helps you get early treatment to avoid serious complications.

At Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute, our team members are experts in many conditions that affect your feet and ankles. Leading our team is Dr. Jeffrey E. McAlister, who’s a world renowned foot and ankle specialist. Dr. McAlister helps you get the specialized treatment you need when you’re suffering from ankle arthritis.

Understanding ankle arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition that has the potential to affect any joint in your body. There are a lot of different forms of arthritis, all of which cause damage and pain in your joints. Your lower extremities are especially susceptible to osteoarthritis, as they take on most of your body weight.

Osteoarthritis is caused by wear-and-tear, and results in the breakdown of the protective tissues in your ankle. Your cartilage is what protects the bones in your joint and allows it to move without pain. However, with osteoarthritis, the cartilage deteriorates, leading to pain and swelling in your ankle.

Previous injuries, such as an ankle fracture, can also lead to arthritis. This type of injury sometimes leads to cartilage damage, which speeds up the timeline for degenerative arthritis. 

Osteonecrosis (tissue death) is a condition that sometimes happens when you injure your ankle. This condition is the result of damage sustained in an injury, which causes reduced blood flow to some of your bone. When this happens, arthritis can be just around the corner.

The symptoms of ankle arthritis vary, depending on the severity of your arthritis and how long it’s been going on. Pain is one of the most common symptoms, and it can be anywhere from a dull ache to a stabbing sensation.

5 common signs of ankle arthritis

While pain is one of the main signs of arthritis in your ankle, there are other key symptoms as well. Some of the other common signs of ankle arthritis include:

1. Instability

When you have ankle arthritis, you may have sustained an injury or have damage to the cartilage in your joint. This can lead to a feeling of instability, like your ankle could “give out” at any moment.

2. Stiffness

The swelling that usually occurs with ankle arthritis causes your joint to become less flexible, and stiff. The stiffness may also cause pain and discomfort.

3. Pain

Arthritis in any of your joints often causes pain. This is due to the wearing down of the cartilage, which essentially protects your joint. Without this cartilage, your ankle bones can rub together, which leads to pain.

4. Swelling

When bones rub together, that friction causes inflammation and pain, and in an attempt to decrease the friction, your body produces excess fluid. This, in turn, leads to swelling in the ankle.

5. Decreased range of motion

Arthritis in your ankle damages the integrity of your joint. This causes not only pain and swelling, but also the inability to move your ankle like you once could. The stiffness and pain decreases the overall movement in your ankle, which poses a problem when it comes to certain activities.

Treatments that can help your arthritis

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, it’s important you see Dr. McAlister as soon as possible. Early treatment in ankle arthritis helps to slow the progression of the disease, and alleviate some of your symptoms.

Once Dr. McAlister determines arthritis is the culprit behind your symptoms, he offers a number of different therapies to not only reduce your symptoms, but also help to heal your joint. He takes a number of factors into consideration when determining the proper route of treatment, including the severity of the damage in your joint, and how it’s affecting your daily activities.

Sometimes, conservative measures are all you need in early arthritis. Ankle bracing is one of the measures that helps to stabilize your ankle and help with swelling. However, if your condition is more advanced, Dr. McAlister recommends more aggressive forms of treatments, such as:

The goal of treatment is to repair the damage to your ankle joint, so you can get back to your busy life. While many of these treatments are invasive, sometimes they’re the only way for Dr. McAlister to give you the pain and symptom relief you’ve been looking for.

Don’t continue to suffer from ankle pain. If you’re concerned about ankle arthritis, call us at 602-761-7819 to schedule a consultation with Dr. McAlister, or book an appointment online with us today.

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