What is Arthritic Ankle Pain

Pain in the ankle is not uncommon, especially for the people with arthritis, it is a daily trouble they face. Ankle arthritis is a condition that causes pain, swelling, deformity, and instability in the ankle joint. It affects the tibiotalar joint, which is formed by the shin bone (tibia) and the ankle bone.

Ankle Arthritis Symptoms

  • Pain while leg movement
  • Severe ankle pain
  • Swollen ankle
  • Stiffness or loss of mobility
  • Swelling around the joint
  • Deformity of the ankle

Types of Arthritis that Affect the Ankle

It is important to identify the type of arthritis that's causing pain in the ankle because some types of arthritis require very specific medications and treatments. The following are some of the common types of ankle arthritis.


It is the most common type of arthritis, it happens when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones deteriorates over time. It affects joints, hands, knees, hips, and spine.

Post-traumatic arthritis

It is caused by an injury like a bone fracture or dislocation.

Rheumatoid arthritis

It is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease where the immune system attacks healthy cells of the body, causing inflammation or painful swelling. Psoriatic arthritis and peripheral spondyloarthritis are two other types of inflammatory arthritis that can affect the ankle joint.


It is a common and complicated type of arthritis that can affect anyone at any age. It is distinguished by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in one or more joints, most commonly the big toe.

Reactive arthritis

This happens due to an infection of the urinary, genital, or gastrointestinal systems. Ankle gets affected from it first.

Diagnosis of Ankle Arthritis

  • The doctor will perform some physical tests to evaluate skin changes, the presence or absence of pulses and nerve sensations, the range of motion in your ankle, and areas of discomfort.
  • X-rays will be done to determine the extent of your arthritis and any associated ankle problems.
  • If the doctor suspects the need for surgery, you may be asked for additional testing such as a CT scan or an MRI.

Treatments for Ankle Arthritis

The treatment plan is based on previous treatments, type of arthritis, pain, other medical conditions, health history, exam, and X-rays.


Some medications are prescribed for treating it like acetaminophen. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen and ibuprofen may also be prescribed by a doctor. Other medications may be used to treat more severe types of arthritis.

Non-Surgical Procedures

Most of the time ankle arthritis can be treated with non-surgical ways such as -

  • Ankle bracing
  • Cortisone injections
  • Changes in lifestyle activity
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Hot compression and cold compression with ice


Surgery is done when all other non-surgical options do not work, following are the surgeries:

  • Ankle fusion (arthrodesis)
  • Total ankle joint replacement (arthroplasty)
  • Bone spur removal (debridement)

Home Remedies for Arthritis in the Ankle

  • Lifestyle changes are important to treat arthritis in the ankle. healthy eating and exercising can help a patient to stay fit and active.
  • Soothe with heat and ice: Heat therapy can relax and soothe stiff and sore ankles. Ice can help numb and reduce inflammation in joint pain-affected areas. Ice therapy is beneficial for acute exacerbations of arthritis symptoms (swelling and redness), whereas heat therapy is beneficial for chronic pain symptoms.
  • Do ankle-friendly exercise: Perform some exercises which are good for the ankle. Exercises will help to strengthen joints, muscles, and the ankle.
  • Always wear good footwear: avoid wearing fashionable footwear instead, wear good comfortable ones. Uncomfortable footwear might cause ankle pain.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Consume a diet that contains calcium and foods that strengthen bones and joints. Maintaining a healthy weight helps to reduce joint stress.
  • Use an assistive device: A cane or walker can help reduce stress on the affected joint and improve mobility and stability. Holding a cane with the hand opposite the injured ankle can help relieve pressure on the injured ankle.

Immediate medical attention is important!

Ankle arthritis can cause a few medical emergencies. This is a chronic condition in most cases. If the ankle becomes stuck and refuses to move, a piece of bone may be trapped in the joint. This would necessitate prompt medical attention. Infectious arthritis may be present if the ankle is hot and swollen, and immediate evaluation is required.

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