Image above shows normal ankle on left vs ankle arthritis on right
Ankle arthritis is degeneration of the cartilage of the ankle joint. This is not as common as knee or hip osteoarthritis. The ankle joint is made up of three bones; the tibia, fibula and talus. The tibia and fibula form a mortis that the talus sits in. As you move your foot up and down, the talus moves within this space.
Do I have Ankle Osteoarthritis?
Most people suffering from ankle osteoarthritis will present with pain and reduced range of motion at their ankle. Your ankle may be painful to touch at the bones and pain will have gradually come on. It will also likely be painful to bring your knee in front of your toe or there is a physical block.
The easiest way to diagnose this is with a series of x-rays hand in hand with good clinical examination from your podiatrist, doctor or physio. It is common to see a reduction in the space between the bones alongside bony spurs. We know that those who have sustained trauma to their ankle are more likely to have osteoarthritis (over two thirds of those diagnosed). That could be repetitive ankle sprains or a fracture. We also know those who have played sport to an elite level are more likely to have ankle osteoarthritis.
First stage treatment of ankle arthritis is normally conservative. A combination of activity modification, rehabilitation and bracing to alleviate pain is indicated. At the clinic we use the Richie Brace. If the arthritis is more severe or doesn’t respond to conservative treatment then surgery may be warranted. There are multiple different surgeries offered for ankle osteoarthritis including joint replacement, fusion or osteotomy. These are best discussed with a foot and ankle surgeon regarding which option is best for you.