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What To Do For Arthritis In Ankle

Other Causes Of Foot Pain

8 Exercises for Ankle Arthritis and Pain

Pain in the foot can be a consequence of damage, pressure or rubbing over a long period of time.

Wearing badly fitting shoes, pregnancy, injury, or putting too much strain through specific parts of your foot can all cause changes in the shape of your feet. Often, these changes are painful and can affect your ability to do things.

Sometimes, its our choice of shoes that has the biggest impact on the structure of our feet and the problems we develop, such as:


Corns are raised areas of hard, knobbly skin which develop where calluses have been left untreated. They often cause a burning sensation. A corn is a permanent change to your foot which will need care and management to stop it becoming too painful. You can manage corns by gently filing or pumicing them each week. You should never cut the skin with a blade.

Corns and calluses will usually grow back within four to six weeks unless you reduce the pressure on the area. Wearing softer, roomier footwear and placing a cushioned pad over the corn or callus can help.


A neuroma causes sudden shooting, stabbing, or burning pain. Most commonly it affects the third and fourth toes and the ball of your foot. It can feel like there is a small stone under your foot and your toes may become numb or tingly. It is caused by a damaged or irritated nerve and often becomes more painful over time. It is also known as Mortons neuroma and can be made worse by:


Clawed, mallet, retracted and hammer toes


When Should I Call My Doctor About Ankle Pain

  • Ankle pain is severe or doesnt go away after two to three days of at-home treatment.
  • Pain and swelling come on suddenly.
  • The area is red or warm to the touch, or you have a fever, which could be a sign of infection.
  • You cant put weight on your ankle.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Ankle pain is a symptom of many injuries and conditions. Swelling, stiffness and pain can make walking difficult or impossible. Most ankle injuries get better with treatments you can do at home, such as elevating your foot and getting plenty of rest. Ankle pain doesnt usually require surgery. If the pain is severe, you have a lot of swelling or the pain doesnt go away after a few days, see your provider. Several noninvasive treatments can help you get back on your feet.

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Sprained Ankle. Accessed 11/16/2020.
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle. Accessed 11/16/2020.
  • American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Ankle Pain. Accessed 11/16/2020.
  • Merck Manuals. Ankle Fractures. Accessed 11/16/2020.
  • Arthritis Foundation. Ankle Pain. Accessed 11/16/2020.
  • American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain. Accessed 11/16/2020.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy

Examining Arthritis Of The Ankle:

  • Cartilage investigation: Cartilage, forming the joint-space in the x-ray image, is the lubricating layer between the bony parts of the joint.
  • Bone tissue beneath the cartilage.
  • Ligaments and tendons guiding the joint.
  • Stress axis and defective positions of the bones of the foot
  • Connective-tissue membrane .

The term arthritis is a collective term for signs of wear in joints.

Similar to the term “stomachache” not stating the cause of the pain, “arthritis of the ankle” also makes no indications of the specific cause of the joint disease. However, the physician is often able to determine the cause of the ailment. This could for example be a loose body, a misalignment of the leg axis or a ligament injury.

Consequently, arthritis of the ankle can have an array of different causes. But these different causes and courses of the disease merely share the same end-stage: The deterioration of the ankle joint through the depletion and deterioration of the cartilage layer on the joint surfaces.

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Arthritis In The Midfoot

The midfoot joints, called tarsometatarsal joints, are located almost halfway between the ankle and the toes, slightly closer to the ankle. These joints connect the long bones that form the arch of the foot to the bony part of the foot in front of the ankle. Arthritis that develops in the midfoot can affect one or more of these joints, causing pain when walking or climbing stairs.

How Does Ra Affect The Ankles

Rheumatoid Arthritis, swelling, ankles.

Symptoms of RA tend to come and go in cycles called flares, which may last a few days or several weeks. Without treatment, they may last months. People may notice that their symptoms are worse in the morning or at night.

As it does in other joints, RA can cause inflammation and stiffness in the ankle joints. Most of the inflammation comes from the autoimmune aspect of RA the immune system sends inflammatory cells to the joint, causing inflammation there.

Over time, this can affect the structure of the ankle joints, leading to permanent changes in their shape.

The ankle joint connects the leg bones to the foot. It is made up of two smaller joints that act as a hinge to move the foot. Movements such as walking rely on properly functioning ankle joints.

The bones in the ankle joint contain cartilage that protects them from rubbing against each other. RA causes this cartilage to break down over time, increasing the friction between the bones and exposing nerve endings.

This friction between bones can produce extra inflammation around the ankle joint. It can also damage the surrounding tissues that support the ankle, causing them to become weak and unstable and reducing their ability to support the joint.

This leads to ankle pain.

In many cases, people with RA in the ankles also have other symptoms in their feet. Commonly affected areas are:

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How Are Ankles And Feet Affected By Arthritis

Any joint in your ankles, feet and toes can be affected by arthritis. Many different types of arthritis can affect the feet and cause joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Arthritis in the feet can make standing and walking painful. You may find your feet and/or toes change shape, making it harder to fit shoes.

Consider different forms of exercise to take pressure off painful feet. Make sure you have supportive, well fitting footwear.

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Medication For Arthritis In The Ankle

Medications are an important part of treatment for arthritis in the ankle. They can help slow bone loss, relieve inflammation, and ease pain. Here are the types of medications used commonly in arthritis treatment.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and naproxen , as well as prescription NSAIDs, can help relieve pain and swelling in the joints. Even though many NSAIDs are available over the counter, they can have side effects especially when taken for the long term and/or in high doses.

Oral corticosteroids: These quick-acting drugs help stop inflammation and are often used to manage flares in rheumatoid arthritis and gout, says Rajat Bhatt, MD, a community rheumatologist with offices in Richmond, Pearland and Greater Heights, Texas. Its best to use corticosteroids in the lowest possible dose for short periods of time, as they can cause a range of serious side effects, including bone thinning and high blood sugar.

Steroid injections: In certain cases, steroid injections into the ankle joint can help relieve inflammation. These shots shouldnt be done repeatedly, though. Frequent injections damage cartilage, says Dr. Bhatt. Also, we try avoiding tendon injections and tendon ligaments close to the joint. An occasional shot, though, can offer temporary pain relief and reduce inflammation. No more than three injections per year is the standard of care, says Dr. Archer.

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Managing The Symptoms And The Pain

Physicians must eliminate other conditions before making an ankle arthritis diagnosis. With the right treatment regime, the degeneration can usually be slowed and pain controlled. Treating ankle arthritis is more than just relieving pain it is restoring function, health, and vitality to a person, says Dr. Greisberg. Some lifestyle changes can make a big difference, including:

Compresses: 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.

Change the workout routine: Engage in activities that put less stress on the ankles try lower impact options, such as an exercise bike or swimming. Also, a physical therapist can give the patient specific exercises to stretch the ankle joints soft-tissues and build surrounding muscles.

Wear supportive footwear: Wear shoes that provide good support and discourage ankle rolling that causes a foot to turn in or out. High heels and flip-flops should be avoided. High top shoes and boots may help stabilize the ankle. Cushioning shoe inserts and orthopedic products such as walking canes and ankle braces can help stabilize the foot. Most drug stores sell an elastic ankle sleeve, which can be worn during the day to decrease swelling. An orthopedic ankle specialist can prescribe a lace-up brace for more support.

Why Do I Have Pain In My Foot Or Ankle

Ankle Arthritis Treatment Pain-free Walking Without Surgery by Seattle Podiatrist Larry Huppin

Most people experience pain in and around their feet or ankles at some point in their lives.

Its one of the most complex, hard-working regions of your body. It has 26 bones and 33 small joints, all held together by a network of soft tissue made up of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels.

Most cases of foot or ankle pain are short term and are caused by soft tissue injuries, such as sprains or strains.

These should gradually heal with the help of simple self-care measures. Though some could take a few months to fully recover, you probably wont need to seek treatment from a healthcare professional.

However, some pain can have no obvious cause or may not improve significantly with self-care.

Pain that seems to be getting worse, does not improve, or lasts longer than a few months could be due to structural changes in the foot or ankle, or an underlying condition.

There can be several explanations for long-term pain in and around the feet or ankles, such as:

  • badly fitting footwear

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Who Can Help My Foot Or Ankle Pain

There are trained healthcare professionals who specialise in diagnosing and treating problems affecting the foot and lower leg.

A podiatrist

Podiatrists are trained foot specialists, they used to be called chiropodists. They can offer you:

  • advice on padding, dressings, specialist insoles, splints and supports
  • advice about footwear and exercise
  • small non-surgical procedures
  • advice on medication

Different areas have different rules for who can be referred to an NHS podiatrist. Some only refer people if they have rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or peripheral arterial disease. Other authorities may have broader terms.

If you visit a podiatrist privately you will need to pay for your appointments and any treatment. However, they can refer you for some services, such as scans or x-rays, on the NHS.

You can find a private podiatrist by visiting:

A physiotherapist

Physiotherapists are trained to use movement, exercise, manual therapy, and advice to help get your foot and ankle moving again. They will show you exercises to practice at home to support your recovery.

In some areas you can self-refer to an NHS physiotherapist. Otherwise, your doctor will request an appointment for you.

You can see a physiotherapist privately, though you would have to pay for your treatment. To find a registered private physiotherapist visit the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

An orthotist

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.

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When To See A Doctor

  • See your doctor if you think you might have osteoarthritis in the foot. The sooner you get some help, the more you can do to slow down the wear and tear on the joint.
  • Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist who will show you exercises to relieve the pain in your foot.
  • Ice and rest can relieve the pain from osteoarthritis in the toes.
  • Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling.

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Causes Of Arthritis Of The Ankle

Rheumatoid arthritis in the ankles: Symptoms and treatment
  • Defective positions in the ankle following a ligament rupture
  • Bone and cartilage injuries following a ligament rupture
  • Overstressing the ankle due to sports or being overweight.
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Defective positions and dysfunction of the leg axis due to defective positions .
  • Defective position following an accident.
  • Neurological causes, e.g. polyneuropathy or nerve damage.
  • Metabolic causes: gout, haemochromatosis, diabetes mellitus.

The upper ankle joint is frequently afflicted by arthritis following accidental damage. Accidental damage includes ligament damage of the upper ankle joint after twisting the ankle as well as joint damage following ankle fractures.

It can also occur if fractures away from the ankle joint heal in a defective position. This results in a constant incorrect weight bearing of the cartilage in the ankle. This damage typically only develops over years In addition to acquired causes, there also are inherent causes for arthritis of the ankle: Congenital club foot, flatfoot or hollow foot.

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Best Ankle Supports For Arthritis 2021


Manifesting itself through pain, swelling or stiffness of the ankles, arthritis is a condition that can often linger, and can make what was once a leisurely walk into a painful chore. Whether your ankles suffer from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis , all forms of arthritis are unpleasant, but can usually be helped with the right compression brace to help stave off your symptoms.

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Ankle Pain

Pain in the ankle can result from several injuries and conditions. Some of the most common injuries that cause ankle pain include:

  • Bursitis: Fluid-filled sacs called bursae cushion your bones when they move. Bursitis happens when these sacs become irritated and inflamed.
  • Fractures: An accident or injury can cause bones to break . Ankle fractures range from mild to severe. Broken ankles can involve bones in any part of the ankle joint. A broken ankle causes ankle swelling and pain.
  • Sprains: Sprained ankles are a common cause of ankle pain. An ankle sprain happens when ligaments stretch or tear. Sprained or twisted ankles happen when the ankle rolls forcefully out of its normal position.
  • Tendonitis: Irritated, inflamed tendons are a soft-tissue injury called tendonitis. Tendons connect muscles to bones. Sometimes, a tendon can tear . A torn tendon may need surgical repair.

Many diseases, disorders and conditions can also lead to ankle pain. These include:

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Ankle Arthritis Caused By Underlying Medical Conditions

About 12% of ankle arthritis cases are linked to an underlying medical condition.1,3 Conditions that can increase the risk of developing ankle osteoarthritis include:

  • Blood disorders, such as hemophilia, which impairs the bloods ability to clot, and hemochromatosis, a condition in which the body absorbs too much iron
  • Clubfoot or other congenital defects that result in poor ankle joint alignment
  • Damage to the bones and cartilage of the ankle joint caused by poor blood circulation, including conditions called avascular talus necrosis and osteochondrosis dissecans

People who have ankle arthritis because of an underlying medical condition tend to experience more pain than people who have post-traumatic ankle arthritis or ankle arthritis with no known cause.5

It is important to remember that not everyone who has suffered an ankle trauma or who has an underlying medical condition will get ankle arthritis. These conditions simply increase the likelihood that ankle arthritis will develop.

Braces For Ankle Arthritis

Arthritis Ankle 4K.mp4

People with active lifestyles frequently seek non-surgical interventions and pain relief methods to continue their daily living activities. Thats why wearing an ankle brace to support the joint or ankle compression sleeve to assist reduce pain, swelling and stiffness, adding brace or inserts to the shoes to provide cushion and foot support, or in extreme cases, a splint to immobilise the area are all non-surgical management options.

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How Will It Affect Me

Osteoarthritis can affect people in different ways, but the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis are:

  • pain and swelling in the affected joints
  • stiffness, especially if you havent moved for a while
  • joints looking bigger than normal.

Some people with osteoarthritis can hear grating or crunching noises when moving their feet and ankles. You may also feel unsteady on your feet.

You may have an achy feeling in your feet, especially if youve been particularly active or worn high heels. Some people also get pain in their feet at night.

In the ankle, osteoarthritis could cause your ligaments to become weaker, which could put more strain on the cartilage. You might also find the muscles around your ankle become weaker over time, and it may feel painful to walk or put weight on your ankle.

The repair process in osteoarthritis can cause spurs to form on the edge of your bones. These are known as osteophytes and change the shape of your joint. Sometimes bone and cartilage can break away and float inside the joint, which could cause more pain and swelling.

If you think you might have osteoarthritis of the foot or ankle, its important to visit your GP, so they can diagnose you and start treatment as soon as possible. If youve been diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the foot or ankle, its important to know that your symptoms probably wont get worse, and they may even improve.

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