What is osteoarthritis of the ankle?
The ankle joint is really two joints - a hinge joint that allows the foot to move up and down, and a joint below this that allows the ankle to move from side to side.
In osteoarthritis, the cartilage that lines the joint surfaces becomes worn over time, and this interferes with the smooth movement of the joint.
How do we treat osteoarthritis at the Mansfield Clinic?
Osteoarthritis is a long-term condition which cannot be cured, but it doesn't necessarily get any worse over time and it can sometimes gradually improve. A number of treatments are available to reduce the symptoms. Dr Allfree may choose to use one or more of the following treatment strategies to help your joint pain:
As with osteoarthritis in any joint, symptoms include:
As the arthritis progresses, it can be painful to walk or weightbear, especially on uneven surfaces. There may also be pain at rest, and during the night. You may notice that the joint grates or creaks when it moves - this is called crepitus. If the OA is very severe, the bone itself becomes misshapen.
Normally this is an easy diagnosis to make. Dr Allfree will ask you about your pain, and examine your foot and ankle to assess its range of movement. Sometimes an ankle x-ray will be required to determine the extent of the osteoarthritis, and this can be arranged at the Mansfield Clinic.
Dr Allfree may suggest simple painkilling medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to help relieve the pain and stiffness.
Osteopathic mobilisation techniques and a programme of strengthening exercises can help with mild to moderate osteoarthritis.
If your pain is moderately severe, he may also suggest giving you a steroid injection directly into the joint to relieve pain and inflammation. You will need to avoid strenuous activity and rest for 24 hours after this in order for the steroids to work. Steroid injections do not work indefinitely, and you may find that you will need to have the procedure repeated every so often.
Another option is to inject into the joint with Hyalgan, which is not a steroid. This helps to lubricate the joint.
If conservative treatments do not help, it may be necessary to consider seeking the advice of an orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in ankle problems. Dr Allfree will be able to help you with the arrangements. There are a number of different surgical options, depending on the circumstances, and the surgeon will discuss these with you:
If you have ankle osteoarthritis, there are a number of self-help measures that you can try: