Arthritis of the ankle may be due to inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid disease, but is more often due to osteoarthritis or “wear and tear”. This invariably leads to loss or damage of cartilage within the joint. Fractures or other injuries of the ankle often contribute to it, even though they may have occurred many years earlier.
Ankle arthritis is characterised by a gradual onset of pain and stiffness of the ankle. It is usually made worse by activity and relieved by rest. There may also be swelling of the ankle, and over time the ankle may become deformed.
A variety of treatment options are available; which is most appropriate depends upon the individual and stage of the disease.
For early disease physiotherapy, steroid injection, or arthroscopic debridement (key-hole surgery) may be of benefit. For more advanced disease ankle fusion or total ankle replacement offer good relief of pain.