Arthritic Ankle? Kicking Pain To The Curb: When Surgery Is Your Champion

Do You Have A Bum Ankle?

Arthritis of the ankle is a chronic disease that affects roughly 30 out of every 100,000 people. This condition is characterized by inflammation and pain in the ankle joint, making walking, standing, and participating in activities difficult. Ankle arthritis develops over several years and, if left untreated, can severely limit mobility. To manage an arthritic ankle, various conservative treatments such as medication, physical therapy (PT), and assistive devices can be employed. However, these treatments cannot provide adequate long-term relief for some individuals. In some situations, surgery may be necessary to finally curb pain.

Understanding ankle arthritis

Different types of arthritis can affect the ankle, including osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and post-traumatic arthritis. Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. The smooth cartilage wears away, which causes rubbing of the bone when in motion. The bone also wears away over time or develops calluses called bone spurs. Regardless of the type of arthritis causing pain to the ankle, early detection and intervention are crucial to manage symptoms and prevent further damage to the joint.

Conservative treatment options

The first line of treatment for arthritic ankle pain is typically lifestyle modifications and medications. This may include weight management and exercise to improve joint function and reduce pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Physical therapy and assistive devices such as braces or orthotics can also support and improve mobility. Another treatment option is steroid injections, which can help reduce inflammation and provide temporary pain relief. However, when conservative options have been exhausted, and the patient still experiences significant pain and decreased mobility, surgery may be recommended.

Surgical reality

The last line of treatment for arthritic ankle pain is surgery. Depending on the patient’s unique condition, different surgical procedures may be considered. First on the list is arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgery (MIS) that uses small incisions and a tiny camera to diagnose and treat ankle joint issues. The next option is ankle fusion, which involves fusing the bones in the ankle joint together to reduce pain.

A brand new ankle?

In severe cases, the medical team may suggest total ankle replacement. To improve function and reduce pain, the damaged joint is replaced with an artificial implant, which is a ball-and-socket device made of metal, ceramics, plastics, or a combination of materials. Different surgical techniques are available, including MIS. The specific surgical approach will depend on the severity of the arthritis, the patient’s overall health and lifestyle, and other individual factors.

Get arthritic ankles under control

Any individual experiencing chronic arthritic ankle pain should consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. While conservative treatment options may be sufficient for some patients, other people may require surgery to effectively manage symptoms and improve mobility. Studies show ankle surgeries have a 90% success rate. The surgeon will decide on the specific surgical technique depending on the severity of the condition and other relevant factors.


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