Ankle Arthritis (DJD)
Nearly 27 million people in the United States are affected by osteoarthritis.
This condition is characterized by the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage in one or more joints. When cartilage deteriorates or is lost, even simple daily activities become painful.
Many people refer to osteoarthritis simply as arthritis, even though there are more than 100 different types of arthritis. It's known as degenerative or "wear and tear" disease because the cartilage in the joint wears down with repeated stress and use over time. Sometimes the condition develops as a result of abnormal foot mechanics.
In the foot, the disease most frequently occurs in the big toe, although it is also often found in the midfoot and ankle. An injury such as jamming or by dropping something on the toe, may also lead to osteoarthritis. In the midfoot, osteoarthritis can be caused by a sprain, fracture or dropping something on the foot. However, it may take months or years after the injury for the condition to develop.
To help relieve symptoms, your physician may begin treating osteoarthritis with one or more of the following non-surgical approaches:
- Oral medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can help reduce inflammation and pain.
- Orthotic devices. Custom orthotics (shoe inserts) can provide support to improve the foot's mechanics or cushioning that may help minimize pain.
- Bracing. Braces that restrict motion and support the joint can reduce pain during walking and help prevent further deformity.
- Immobilization. Protecting the foot from movement with a cast or removable cast-boot may will allow the inflammation to resolve.
- Steroid injections. In some cases, steroid injections are applied to the affected joint to deliver anti-inflammatory medication.
- Physical therapy. Exercises to strengthen the muscles, especially when the osteoarthritis occurs in the ankle, helps inrease stability.
In some cases, non-surgical treatment may not adequately reduce the pain and surgery may be recommended. The goal of surgery is to decrease pain and improve function. Consult with your physician so you can make treatment decisions that are best suited to your condition and lifestyle.