The connection between ankle injury and arthritis

If you are dealing with an ankle injury, you’re probably mostly worried about getting it healed and getting back to the activities that you love. That’s because many think an ankle injury is only a minor and temporary setback that requires a procedure and some physical therapy. Although there are many treatments and procedures that can help you heal in proper time, the truth is that an injury can impact you over the course of your life. Research indicates that individuals who experience an ankle injury have an increased chance of developing arthritis in the area, sometimes even much later in life. Here are a few things to keep in mind, including what to do if you think you are experiencing arthritis in your ankles.

As noted in New York’s Ithaca Journal, almost half of people in their 60s and 70s have arthritis of the ankle, foot, or both. Furthermore, nearly 80 percent of people with ankle arthritis report a prior ankle injury or injuries, usually an ankle fracture or bad ankle sprains. Arthritis can be incredibly painful, even to the point of being debilitating. Ankle arthritis develops as the cartilage protecting the bones of the joints wears down over time. Over the years, as stress is put on the joints of the ankles, the cartilage wears thin and sometimes even erodes completely. Individual suffering from arthritis describe it as stiffness, sometimes accompanied by swelling and tenderness. X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs can all be helpful in detecting and diagnosing arthritis.

Although physical therapy can sometimes relieve symptoms, arthritis cannot be cured. As a result, some individuals turn to surgery to reduce the pain that they experience. The best solution depends on your specific situation, including the extent of your damage and how your body will respond to a procedure. Some proven surgical examples include:

  • Arthroscopic repair: In this type of procedure, a small incision is made in the area of concern and a camera guides surgical tools in an effort to remove bone spurs and other problematic issues. Because of the nature of the surgery, scarring is often minimal and healing time is quicker than with traditional techniques.
  • Ankle fusion: This method involves removing all cartilage from a joint and then joining two or more bones together so that they do not move. Fusions may be performed with screws, plates or pins, or a combination of these materials.
  • Total ankle replacement: This technique is typically reserved for the most extreme situations. During a total ankle replacement, the damaged ankle joint is surgically removed and replaced with an artificial replacement joint, which helps restore function and motion to the joint. While it is difficult to restore full function to the ankle, many patients are able to experience an improvement in ankle function after this procedure.

Although arthritis can be frustrating, it doesn’t have to define your life. We want to help you feel as healthy as you can, including in your ankles. If you have concerns about how yours are feeling and want to know more about your options, don’t hesitate to reach out.