Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints. While it is most often associated with the hands, knees, and hips, arthritis can also affect the ankle joints. Adequate ankle mobility allows us to perform activities such as walking, running, jumping, and squatting with ease. Any problem to the ankle joint can be limiting.
If you suspect that your problem may be ankle arthritis, consult an expert on foot and ankle health, a podiatrist, who can make a diagnosis and create a management strategy for your condition. Treatment goals are individualized to the patient, but in general, doctors want patients to be able to move normally again.
In this article, we will discuss the different diagnosis and management strategies for ankle arthritis and where you can go in South Texas for superior ankle care.
Diagnosis of Ankle Arthritis
Diagnosing ankle arthritis involves conducting a review of the patient’s medical history, a physical examination, and imaging tests. The first step is to review the patient’s symptoms. Ankle arthritis not only causes pain, but also makes it difficult to bear weight on the affected foot.
During the physical examination, the foot doctor will assess the ankle joint for tenderness and swelling, as well as signs of deformity. They may also perform specific maneuvers to evaluate the range of motion and stability of the ankle joint.
X-rays are commonly used to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of arthritis. In some cases, additional imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan or bone scan, may be ordered to provide more detailed information about the patient’s condition.
Management Strategies for Ankle Arthritis
In some cases, especially in the early stages of the disease, ankle arthritis can be managed through conservative methods:
- Medications: Pain medication and anti-inflammatories can help with ankle arthritis pain relief. Corticosteroid injections may also be used to reduce swelling and provide longer lasting relief from ankle arthritis pain.
- Acupuncture: The insertion of fine needles at specific points in the body can disrupt or divert pain signals, providing relief from ankle pain.
- Herbal supplements: Herbs and nutritional supplements, namely glucosamine and chondroitin, have shown potential in the treatment of arthritis.
- Physical Therapy: Specific exercises can improve strength, flexibility, and stability of the ankle joint.
- Assistive Devices: The use of orthotic devices, such as ankle braces or shoe inserts, can help provide support and reduce strain on the joint. Other assistive devices such as canes and walkers can also reduce stress on the joints.
- Lifestyle Modifications: Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding activities that put stress on the ankles can help manage ankle arthritis.
Surgery for Ankle Arthritis
In cases where conservative treatments fail to provide adequate relief from ankle arthritis, surgical intervention may be considered. A foot and ankle surgeon can recommend the most appropriate procedure for your condition, and may use arthroscopy, which is a minimally invasive technique that involves using smaller incisions and less tissue trauma for the patient.
Some of the surgery techniques used in the treatment of ankle arthritis include:
This procedure involves the removal of the diseased or damaged joint lining (synovium), with the goal of reducing inflammation and pain associated with ankle arthritis through the elimination of the source of irritation.
A podiatrist may perform an osteotomy to address misaligned bones. This surgery involves cutting and realigning the bones to improve ankle joint function and alleviate painful symptoms.
3. Joint Fusion (Arthrodesis)
A joint fusion involves permanently joining or fusing the bones in the ankle, with the goal of eliminating motion in the joint and stabilizing it. This minimizes painful instability in the ankle.
4. Joint Replacement (Arthroplasty)
For very advanced ankle arthritis, the doctor may recommend a joint replacement. During the procedure, the damaged joint is replaced with an artificial one made of a combination of durable materials, so the patient gets a new and working ankle joint.
Ankle Specialist in San Antonio, TX
For relief from ankle arthritis, consult with one of our foot and ankle specialists at The Podiatry Group of South Texas. We are highly experienced in the treatment of this condition and are committed to our patients’ relief from symptoms. Our podiatrists understand the importance of healthy and proper functioning feet.
Find out what our foot and ankle doctors may recommend to you. Call our podiatry office near you or use our online form to schedule an appointment. Our friendly staff looks forward to welcoming you to any one of our locations in San Antonio, Boerne, Hondo, Floresville, Kenedy, Uvalde, and Live Oak.