Ankle Arthritis

Ankle Arthritis

Ankle Arthritis is a term used to describe joint and tissue inflammation or degradation of cartilage in the ankle. Ankle Arthritis is often accompanied by pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of motion in the ankle joint.

What causes Ankle Arthritis?

There are several factors that can contribute to ankle arthritis. Factors may include:

  • Worn down or worn out cartilage. Without cartilage to help cushion the joints the bones can begin to rub together - bone on bone - wearing them down and causing pain.
  • Past injury or trauma to the ankle joint or cartilage: ankle fracture or broken ankle.
  • Lack of joint use. Lack of movement can cause stiffness and can lead to further inflammation of the ligaments, muscles, and joints.
  • Obesity. Extra weight puts extra pressure on joints and causes stress.
  • Genetics can play a part in ankle arthritis due to a predisposition to early joint wear.

How do I know if I have Ankle Arthritis?

What are the symptoms of Ankle Arthritis?

Some of the most common symptoms of Ankle Arthritis are:

  • Pain, stiffness, and swelling around the ankle joint.
  • Instability in your ankle joint. This may cause you to feel as though your ankle joint “gives out” every so often.
  • Joint deformity
  • How is Ankle Arthritis diagnosed?
  • In addition to a physical examination, your physician may order an x-ray or a bone scan to diagnose ankle arthritis.

What can I do from home for Ankle Arthritis?

What can I do to prevent Ankle Arthritis?

  • Avoid activities that require excessive running or jumping, as these types of activities can accelerate ankle arthritis
  • Supportive footwear such as cushioned shoe inserts or an ankle brace
  • Monitor your weight and activity level. Extra weight and increased physical activity can cause unnecessary stress to your ankle joints.

What treatments can I do from home for Ankle Arthritis?

You can manage Ankle Arthritis from home by doing the following:

  • Wear shoes with firm soles. These types of soles will give your ankle joint added stability.
  • Limit activities that put unnecessary stress on your joints such as running or jumping.
  • Use an ankle brace and/or cane to take stress off the joint and give it stability

When should I see a doctor for Ankle Arthritis?

You should make an appointment with your doctor if you:

  • Have continual trouble walking due to swelling, pain, and stiffness in your ankle joints
  • Can not move or bend your ankle

Treatments your doctor may recommend for Ankle Arthritis


  • Ankle brace
  • Physical therapy
  • Pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Alternately applying heat and ice to the inflamed area
  • Cortisone injections


(Surgical options should not be considered if you are not willing to modify your activity level)

  • Ankle replacement surgery - This is only suggested when you are suffering from chronic severe ankle arthritis. It is similar to hip and knee replacement surgery.
  • Ankle fusion surgery - This is also only suggested when you are suffering from severe chronic ankle arthritis. The surgeon will remove the worn out pieces of bone and then fuse the remaining ankle bones together. This results in limited range of motion, but the joint will be pain free.