What is ankle arthritis?
Arthritis is a common term for a group of more than 100 diseases. The word “arthritis” means “inflammation of the joints.” Arthritis involves inflammation (swelling) in and around the joints. The inflammation can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. Arthritis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the soft tissues of the joint and its surroundings.
In arthritis, progressive joint degeneration occurs and the soft “cushion” cartilage in the joints gradually disappears, causing the bones to wear down each other. The soft tissue in the joints also begins to wear out. Arthritis can be painful and eventually lead to limited mobility, loss of joint function, and joint deformities.
As you get older, your risk of developing arthritis will increase. Joint damage caused by this condition can cause swelling, pain, and physical changes in the feet and ankles.
Symptoms of ankle arthritis
Symptoms of foot and ankle arthritis are usually:
- Tenderness when touching the joint
- Pain when you move it
- Difficulty moving, walking, or putting weight on it.
- Stiffness, warmth, or swelling of the joints
- More pain and swelling when sitting or falling asleep after resting
Types of ankle arthritis
Arthritis is a common term for a group of more than 100 diseases. It can cause inflammation and swelling in the joints and surrounding soft tissues.
With many types of arthritis, your joints wear out over time. You will gradually lose the soft “cushion” cartilage within them. As a result, your bones rub against each other and wear out. The soft tissue in the joints also begins to wear out. After a while, the joint may not work or may not move as it should.
Several types of arthritis can cause pain in the feet and ankles, including:
Osteoarthritis, or “wear and tear” arthritis, is the most common type. Doctors also call it a degenerative joint disease or age-related arthritis. Osteoarthritis usually causes changes over many years. These are the most common foot and ankle joints:
- The three joints of the heel bone, the inner midfoot bone, and the outer mid-foot bone.
- The toe joint and foot bone.
- The joint where the ankle and tibia meet.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most serious forms. It is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks the joint. It usually occurs in the same joint on both sides of your body.
- Gout occurs when uric acid builds up in your diet. It is most common in the toe because it is the most distant part of the body from the heart.
- Psoriatic arthritis can occur in one or more joints, including the ankles and toes. It can also cause an inflammation of the toes called dactylitis.
- Post-traumatic arthritis occurs after an injury, especially after a dislocation or fracture. You may not notice problems for years.
Diagnosis of ankle arthritis
Doctors can often diagnose RA with a physical exam. They visually inspect the ankles for swelling or other signs and examine their range of motion.
Doctors primarily diagnose rheumatoid arthritis (RA)based on symptoms, but may also recommend other tests to get better details.
For example, doctors often recommend X-rays, ultrasounds, or sometimes MRIs to assess the extent and location of joint damage. This is higher when the doctor suspects RA in the ankle because the initial damage is more immediately apparent than in other areas.
Blood tests can help determine if antibodies in the blood indicate RA or have ruled out other conditions.
Treatment for ankle arthritis
Depending on your symptoms and the cause of your ankle arthritis, you may receive one or more of these treatments:
- Steroids are injected into the joints
- Anti-inflammatory drugs that help with inflammation
- Supports pads or arch on your shoes
- Cane or support braces
- Shoe inserts that support the ankle and foot (orthotics)
- Physical therapy
- Custom footwear
- Surgery for foot and ankle arthritis
Some people need at least one type of surgery to treat foot and ankle arthritis. Your doctor will prescribe the best treatment for you. Arthritis surgeries:
Fusion surgery: This is also known as arthrodesis. Fix the bones with rods, pins, screws, or plates. Once they heal, the bones stick together.
Joint replacement surgery: It is used mainly in severe cases. Your doctor will call it an arthroplasty. They remove damaged bone and cartilage and replace them with metal or plastic.
Home remedies for ankle arthritis
When you have arthritis in your foot or ankle, it is very important to wear comfortable shoes. Check out these details:
- Shoes are shaped like your foot
- Supportive shoes (for example, no slip-on shoes)
- Rubber soles for cushioning
- Proper fit; Ask the seller for help
- Exercise helps keep your feet strong, straight, and painless. Good moves for your feet
Achilles stretch: Flatten with your palms against the wall. Take one step forward and one step back. Keep your heels on the ground and move forward. Pull the Achilles tendon on the back leg and calf. Hold for 10 seconds. Do this exercise three times on each side.
Big toe stretch: Put a thick rubber band around the big toe. Pull your muscles toward each other and the other leg. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Do it 10 times.
Pull the toe: Put a rubber band around the ball of each foot and extend your leg. Hold this position for 5 seconds and do the exercise 10 times.
Finger flexion: Remove the marbles with your foot.
Other home remedies for ankle arthritis
Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen. These can cause side effects such as stomach irritation, so consult your doctor before taking them.
- Creams that contain menthol or capsaicin, which can prevent nerves from sending pain signals
- Keep the area warm or cold
- Glucosamine and chondroitin medications
- Gentle exercises like yoga, tai chi
Medications: It is very important to reduce inflammation so that a person can limit the inflammation in their ankles and control their pain. The following medications can help with RA symptoms and reduce chronic joint damage:
- Pain relievers to control uncomfortable symptoms
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation
- Disease-correcting antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
Maintaining inflammation can help restore mobility to the ankle and other joints. If RA causes permanent damage to the ankle joint, medications will not reverse it, but they will help with pain, prevent further damage, and improve quality of life.
Doctors can also use corticosteroid injections in the ankle to quickly reduce acute inflammation and prevent damage or pain. Because they can suppress the immune system, people should know that they are more likely to get an infection if they take DMARDs and biologics.
Surgery: People with advanced forms of RA or people who do not respond well enough to treatment may need surgery. The surgery doctors offer depends on the type of arthritis and the extent of the damage. Some surgeries involve massaging the bones of the ankle to prevent inflammation and pain.
Ankle replacement surgery may be an option to reduce pain and restore joint mobility in more severe cases if fusion is not effective.
Lifestyle Changes for Foot Arthritis: Some changes in your daily life can make you feel better and prevent your arthritis from getting worse. If a specific activity triggers inflammation, try to keep it to a minimum. Instead of high-impact exercises like jogging, do less spin like swimming or biking. Maintain a healthy weight to put more stress on your joints.