What is Ankle Arthritis? 

Often, arthritis begins as a deterioration of the cartilage in the joint. Cartilage acts like a sponge to help with shock absorption and covers the bone within the joint.  As the cartilage deteriorates, the joint narrows and the bones rub against each other creating spurs and extra bone within and around the joint. When this occurs in the ankle joint, it is referred to as ankle arthritis.

 Causes and Risks ankle arthritis

 Ankle arthritis can result from a variety of factors including:

  •   Age-related wear-and-tear of the joint
  • Cartilage injury or fracture referred to as Osteochondritis Dissecans 
  • Malalignment of the joint
  • Genetic-related changes and deformities of the of the joint
  • Systemic disease

One of the most common causes of arthritis is in the actual degeneration of the joint known as osteoarthritis. This occurs in most adults over the age of 65. However, injuries that occur in the ankle years before such as fractures and dislocations can also cause early onset of ankle arthritis. Rheumatic Disease is also another factor that can speed up the process of ankle joint arthritis.


The symptoms of arthritis in the ankle joint include pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion, and local swelling around the joint. Patients who are experiencing symptomatic arthritis often feel achy or sharp pain when they are exercising. These symptoms are often relieved by rest and activity reduction. Most ankle pain caused from arthritis can be worse in the morning, but can feel better as movement continues or after periods of rest.

Office Treatment

If you are experiencing any type of joint pain, you should request an appointment with Dr.Stewart today. Our goal is to get you back on your feet pain-free and fast. We want to alleviate the pain you feel everyday and make simple activities like walking and standing easier for you. We often treat ankle arthritis conservatively first before the option of  surgery is discussed. Here is the treatment you can receive in the office for your arthritis: 

  • Custom functional orthotics specifically casted for your foot and ankle to support specific areas needing stability and realignment
  • Ankle-foot orthosis: this is a brace that is designed to control your motions and better support your ankle joints when you are moving and best works for those with severe ankle deformities 
  • Ankle therapy to strengthen the tendons crossing the ankle joint 
  • Steroid injections that can decrease inflammation and give pain relief
  • Regenerative medicine to help to repair the ankle joint and reduce ankle symptoms

If conservative treatments do not help eliminate the pain associated with ankle arthritis, there are surgery options available to you. These may include ankle arthroscopy, ankle fusion, and ankle replacements. 

Progression of Injury 

Ankle arthritis is a progressive disease that can worsen and lead to deformities within the ankle joint and further damage of adjacent joints such as those in your feet or knees. It is important to get treatment quickly to help preserve your ankle joint and reduce further damage to the cartilage that protects the bones in your ankle joint.