Ankle arthritis

Back to Patient education: foot & ankle

What is ankle arthritis?

AAnkle arthritis occurs when cartilage in the ankle joint gradually erodes. Cartilage is a rubbery tissue that allows bones to glide smoothly over one another. Without the cushioning effect of cartilage, the bones of the joint rub together. The ankle can’t move easily and becomes stiff, swollen and painful, particularly when walking.

There are several types of ankle arthritis:

What are the symptoms of ankle arthritis?

Symptoms of ankle arthritis typically include:

How is ankle arthritis diagnosed?

IIn addition to a physical exam and health history, your doctor can use specific tests, including X-rays, MRIs or CT scans, to diagnose ankle arthritis.

What is the treatment?

TThere is no cure for ankle arthritis, but proper treatment can slow its progression, reduce pain and increase function. Patients are encouraged to try these non-operative options first:

If these non-operative treatments don’t work, surgery may be necessary. The type of surgery you have depends on the severity and extent of your arthritis. Sometimes, more than one type of surgery is necessary. It’s important that a qualified foot and ankle surgeon assess your condition to determine the option that is best for you. The most common surgical treatments for ankle arthritis include:

Recovery time varies by patient and the procedure performed. Advancements in minimally invasive approaches, improved implant material and design, and refined surgical techniques have dramatically reduced recovery time. For most patients, the typical recovery period is now weeks rather than months.