Ankle Arthritis Symptoms And Signs
People having arthritis in the foot or ankle do experience one or more of following arthritis in feet symptoms:
- Swelling in or around joint
- Pain, stiffness & tenderness in joint
- Difficulty in walking or in bending joint
- Increased pain and swelling while moving or performing activities
- Increased pain and swelling after sitting for a few hours or in the morning
The less common symptoms like numbness in the sole and toes, tingling sensation in the feet, irritation in the sole, etc. are also felt in certain cases.
Some patients who suffer from foot arthritis may also develop bone spur or a bony protrusion at an affected joint area.
The shoe pressure may result in pain at the site of the bone spur and in few cases, calluses or blisters may form above its surface.
These bone spurs also limit movement of the joint in many.
Surgical Procedures For Ankle Osteoarthritis Include:
Debridement: Using minimally invasive surgery , the ankle joint area is cleaned of foreign tissue, inflamed tissue that lines the joint, and bone spurs.
Ankle fusion:The bones of the joint are fused completely, making one continuous bone. Pins, plates and screws, or rods are used to hold the bones in position while the joint fuses.
Aspiration: With inflammation, there is also fluid build-up. By removing fluid from the joint, you may experience less pain and stiffness.
Ankle replacement with an artificial joint: The ankle joint is replaced with an artificial joint. An ankle replacement allows a person to have more mobility and movement compared with ankle fusion. Ankle replacement is most often recommended for a person with advanced ankle arthritis.
After surgery, your doctor may recommend physical therapy for several months to help you regain ankle strength and restore your range of motion. You can usually resume daily activities within three to four months. You may need special braces or shoes.
Arthritis Pain In The Feet And Ankles
Most arthritic pain in the feet and ankles is caused by the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between bones at pivotal joints wears away. The bones then grind together, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain.
Osteoarthritis foot and ankle pain typically occurs at the ankle joint where the ankle connects to the shinbone, at the joints connecting the three parts of the foot, and in the joint connecting the big toe to the ball of the foot.
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Diagnosing Arthritis Of The Foot And Ankle
Your doctor will begin by getting your medical history, doing a physical exam, and may do a gait analysis. This shows how the bones in your leg and foot line up as you walk. It also measures your stride and tests the strength of your ankles and feet.
You may also need some diagnostic tests. X-rays can show changes in the spacing between bones or in the shape of the bones themselves. A bone scan, computed tomography scan, or magnetic resonance image may also be helpful.
Who Can Help Me With My Arthritis
A foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon can diagnose and treat your arthritis. In addition to your orthopaedic surgeon, other healthcare professionals may care for you, including a rheumatologist , physiatrist , pedorthist , physical therapist, orthotist , occupational therapist, nurse and/or clinical social worker.
Community resources also are available to people with arthritis. Local chapters of the Arthritis Foundation offer exercise programs, educational information and support groups.
You also play an active role in your treatment. Seek treatment for arthritis as early as possible to help control pain and reduce damage to joints. Take medications as directed, exercise, control your weight, and participate in all aspects of your care. If you have questions about the need for a test, or the risks or benefits of your treatment, ask your doctor. Even with the best treatment, arthritis of the foot and ankle may continue to cause you pain or changes in your activities. However, proper diagnosis and treatment will help to minimize these limitations and allow you to lead a productive, active lifestyle.
Contributors/Reviewers: David Lee, MD Elizabeth Cody, MD John Early, MD
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Determining The Proper Treatment
Regardless of the condition of the ankle, each patient will require a treatment that is individually suited to their needs. Factors in determining the proper treatment include age , activity level, body weight, quality of bone stock, overall alignment of the foot, stability, and degree of arthritic severity.
In order to determine some of these factors, a doctor will conduct a physical exam and prescribe .
Generally, candidates for total ankle replacement have good mobility, with good bone stock and foot alignment. If TAR is deemed to be an appropriate treatment, Dr. Deland stresses that choosing a surgeon with significant experience is vital. No surgeon should do only one or two of these TAR procedures per year theyll get into trouble mighty fast, he explains. You have to know about foot alignment, and you have to know the implant. Studies show a steep learning curve when performing this procedure.
A surgeon who is well-versed in the procedure will then be able to determine the best type of implant for the patient.
What Are My Surgical Options
There are a number of options available, and you should sit down with your Consultant Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon and make an individualised treatment plan.The surgical options offered to you will depend on a number of factors:
1. Your age2. The extent of your arthritis and the degree of deformity 3. The quality and strength of your bone4. Your job and current level of activity5. Your surgeon and his/her philosophy/training
The important decision you will need to make with your surgeon, is whether you are a candidate for arthroscopic debridement, a fusion or a replacement. These options are discussed below:
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What Is The Ankle Made Up Of
The ankle joint is also known as the tibiotalar joint. It is composed of mainly three bones
- Tibia – Tibia is a bone situated in the leg of the human body. It is also known as the shinbone or the shank bone. It starts at the knee and continues up to the ankle.
- Fibula – This bone is also located in the legs. It is connected to tibia from both its ends.
- Talus – The talus bone is also known as the ankle bone. It is a part of the tarsus, which is a collection of bones of the foot. It forms the bottom part of the ankle joint.
Some tissues are present in between these bones. These include
- TendonsThis tissue is made up of collagen. It is very strong and flexible. The main function of the tendon is to connect the bone to the muscle of the ankle joint.
- LigamentsThese are flexible and strong as well. Ligaments can help to connect one bone to another, one cartilage to another or simply to hold a joint together.
- Articular cartilageIt is a smooth tissue present at the end of the bones which are a part of a joint. This allows the joints to move freely with very little friction.
- Synovial membrane This membrane lines the bone of the joints. Along with the synovial membrane, a fluid called synovial fluid is also present which further lessens the friction. This makes the movement of the joint flexible.
All these together make up the ankle joint.
Problems Linked To Low And High Arches
Arches that are higher or lower than average can increase your risk of developing other problems, such as:
- valgus heel
- corns and calluses.
The self-care tips can help ease pain in your arches.
Changing your footwear to a well-made running trainer that you feel supports the shape of your arch may prevent further painful changes to the structure of your arches.
Insoles and arch supports can help but its best to visit a foot specialist, such as a podiatrist, to get ones designed specifically for your foot shape.
If youre buying new footwear its best to take any adaptations, such as insoles, padding, or arch supports with you, as you may need a larger shoe size to fit them in comfortably.
Losing weight, if you need to, can reduce the strain on your arches and may prevent further long-term changes.
You may find it difficult to do exercises that put a lot of pressure through your feet. Swimming is a good way to improve and maintain your fitness because the water supports your body weight.
Rheumatoid Arthritis And The Ankle
RA attacks your joints, most often starting with the hands and feet, and usually on both sides of your body. It can also cause problems in other body tissues and organs.
Your ankle joins your leg and foot. Its composed of three bones: the shinbone , the calf bone , and the ankle bone .
The lining of your joints is lubricated with synovial fluid so that your joint glides when you move. When the lining becomes inflamed, over time it causes the joint, ligaments, and cartilage to become damaged.
Bones in your ankles can weaken as cartilage and tissues are damaged, causing bones to rub against each other. RA in your ankles can make it painful to walk and make your movement unsteady.
In a 2016 study of 5,637 people with RA in Japan,
Exercising The Ankle Joints
Keeping the ankle joints mobile throughout the day can improve flexibility and range of motion in the area.
Exercises can be designed to ensure the ankles stay mobile but without adding too much strain and causing further damage.
Strengthening the muscles around the joints can also reduce further damage by providing extra support.
People can try specific exercises that stretch and strengthen the ankle joints to reduce pain, stiffness, and swelling, including:
- exercises to strengthen the foot and ankle muscles to relieve pressure on the joints
- stretches to alleviate stiffness in the tissue surrounding the ankles
Physical therapists can create exercises plans that they tailor for the individual. People will need to find out what exercises are best for their needs.
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Conversion Of Ankle Fusion To Ankle Replacement
A small number of people, particularly younger people, with an ankle fusion wish to regain some movement in their ankle. Conversion or takedown of an ankle fusion to an ankle replacement is now possible in some people due to improvements in implant technology.
This fact sheet is a brief overview of ankle arthritis, produced by our Foot and Ankle Surgeon Dr Thomas Fisher. To make an appointment or enquiry with Dr Fisher or a member of our foot and ankle team, contact 08 8362 7788 or email email@example.com.
1. AOANJRR. Demographics and Outcome of Ankle Arthroplasty 2021 . Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry 2021. Available from: https://aoanjrr.sahmri.com/documents/10180/712294/2021+Demographics+Outcome+Ankle+Arthroplasty+SR
2. Coester LM, Saltzman CL, Leupold J, Pontarelli W. Long-Term Results Following Ankle Arthrodesis for Post-Traumatic Arthritis. J Bone Jt Surgery-american Volume. 2001 83:21928.
How To Cure Arthritis In Your Feet: Can Natural Remedies Help
This article was co-authored by Lisa Bryant, ND. Dr. Lisa Bryant is Licensed Naturopathic Physician and natural medicine expert based in Portland, Oregon. She earned a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon and completed her residency in Naturopathic Family Medicine there in 2014.There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 27,116 times.
While arthritis is always a pain to deal with, it can be a particular problem if it affects your feet. This can make getting around difficult, so managing your symptoms is very important. Dont worry! While you can’t cure it, there are luckily a lot of things you can do every day to relieve your pain, and many of them are completely natural. Taking the right steps can keep you moving around easier so arthritis doesnt get in the way of your life. If you try these remedies and dont notice any improvement, then talk to your doctor for more treatment options.
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How Foot And Ankle Exercises Can Help
The following exercises can help improve flexibility and mobility in the feet and ankles, strengthen the muscles supporting your ankles, and prevent stiffness and inflammation. They can all be done while sitting straight up in a chair with your feet starting flat on the floor, and should all be done for each foot and repeated 10 times.
How Is Gout In The Ankle Diagnosed
If you think you might have gout but havent been diagnosed, try to see a doctor while youre having symptoms. Gout is easier to diagnose when youre in the middle of a flare-up thats causing swelling, redness, and other visible symptoms.
During your appointment, your doctor will likely ask you several questions about your diet, any medications you take, and whether you have a family history of gout. This can help to rule out other potential causes of your symptoms, including an infection or rheumatoid arthritis.
Your doctor may also order a blood test to check your uric acid levels. But some people have high levels of uric acid and dont develop gout. Others have typical uric acid levels but still develop gout. As a result, theyll want to do some other tests as well.
An X-ray, MRI, or CT scan of your ankle can also help to eliminate other possible causes of joint inflammation. Depending on your exam, they may also order an ultrasound to check for the presence of crystals in your ankle.
Finally, they might do a joint fluid test. This involves taking a small sample of joint fluid from your ankle with a small needle and looking at it under a microscope for any uric acid crystals.
Based on the results of your exam and tests, they may refer you to an inflammatory arthritis specialist called a rheumatologist for treatment.
Theres no cure for gout, but a combination of medications and home treatments can help to manage ankle pain and reduce the number of flare-ups you have.
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Use Hot And Cold Therapy
Heat and cold treatments can help relieve arthritis pain and inflammation.
- Heat treatments can include taking a long, warm shower or bath in the morning to help ease stiffness and using an electric blanket or moist heating pad to reduce discomfort overnight.
- Cold treatments can help relieve joint pain, swelling, and inflammation. Wrap a gel ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and apply it to painful joints for quick relief. Never apply ice directly to the skin.
- Capsaicin, which comes from chili peppers, is a component of some topical ointments and creams that you can buy over the counter. These products provide warmth that can soothe joint pain.
Symptoms Of Traumatic Arthritis
These include the accumulation of fluid in the joint, pain, stiffness and inflammation. There may be some bleeding inside the joint and it will be unable to bear any weight which causes a general instability.
The affected joint feels sore to touch and there is a noticeable lack of flexibility. Normal movement is restricted.
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Warm Or Cold Compress
Using a warming pad or whirlpool for a few minutes can loosen a stiff ankle joint, making activity easier. Icing the ankle joint for 15 or 20 minutes after activity can decrease swelling and provide some immediate pain relief. Heating or icing a joint may improve symptoms temporarily: it does not alleviate the underlying causes of ankle pain and will not improve long-term joint function by itself.
How Does Traumatic Arthritis Occur
This occurs following damage to the articular cartilage within a joint, e.g. knee joint which often results in osteoarthritis.
To further understand this here is a quick overview of the articular cartilage.
This is the smooth white tissue made from collagen which is found at the end of the bones at the point where they connect to each other as a joint.
This cartilage is strong and durable and enables these bones to move in conjunction with each. For example articular cartilage in the knee allows the knee to perform a wide range of movements.
Articular cartilage is described as extravascular: this means that it is located outside of the bodys vascular system . Blood and other nutrients do not flow through it but are found outside of this tissue.
This is the reason why if this cartilage becomes damaged it then takes a long time to heal.
This cartilage can be bruised, ripped or even torn away from the surface of the bone. If this occurs then small fragments of cartilage can float around inside the joint, causing friction and pain. This can result in extra damage to the joint.
What is important for you to know is if this cartilage becomes damaged, i.e. torn then it will not grow back. Scar tissue forms over areas of damage such as tiny holes but this is no substitute for cartilage.
This then speeds up the rate of wear and tear on that joint.
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What Surgical Treatments Can Help To Treat Foot And Ankle Arthritis
More than one kind of surgery may be required to treat foot and ankle arthritis. Your doctor can select the kind of surgery that is best for you, depending on the type and extent of the arthritis you have. The following are some of the surgical options for foot and ankle arthritis:
- Arthroscopic surgery: This kind of surgery can help in early stages of arthritis. In arthroscopic surgery, an arthroscope is inserted into a joint. The instrument projects an image onto a monitor that is viewed by a surgeon. The surgeon can then use tiny forceps, knives, and shavers to clean the joint area. Arthroscopic surgery can help to remove any foreign tissues or bony outgrowths that are present in the joint.
- Fusion surgery: This kind of surgery, also called arthrodesis, involves fusing bones together with the use of rods, pins, screws, or plates. After healing, the bones remain fused together.
- Joint replacement surgery: This kind of surgery involves replacing the ankle joint with artificial implants and is used only in rare cases.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/31/2019.