Ankle arthritis is loss of the ankle joint cartilage lining. It usually occurs over a period of years. The most common cause is previous trauma but in some patients it may occur as part of a systemic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, haemophilia or gout. Irrespective of cause, the effect is similar, the joint space of the ankle narrows between the tibia and the talus, bony spurs develop, the ankle becomes painful and stiff, and may or grind or lock up. Even though it is less prevalent than arthritis affecting the hip and knee, it can be just as debilitating and painful.
Early or mild ankle arthritis is treated with simple measures such as activity lifestyle modification, physically losing some weight, using a walking aid, avoiding impact activities. When it becomes more severe oral analgesics are required. Some people use medications such as glucosamine and fish oil to help them. Medications may be combined with physiotherapy, orthotics and shoe modifications. A patient may even require ankle bracing or a custom fitted splint. Injection therapy can be useful with the use of steroid, platelet rich plasma or a lubricant hyaluronate. The degree and extent of relief can vary from patient to patient.