Osteoarthritis of the ankle: symptoms and treatment

Osteoarthritis of the ankle is a pathological condition characterized by affection of the articular joint with subsequent disruption of its functioning. The elderly are mostly affected by the disease, but those who are overweight can get this pathology at a young age. This disease affects not only the joint, but also the surrounding tissue — ligaments, cartilage, bones, so the disease is a serious inconvenience to the person, because he not only experiences pain, but also he still has gait disturbances due to deformity of the ankle — in this case Speak about deforming osteoarthritis of the ankle joint.


As already mentioned above, natural wear of the ankle is one of the reasons for the development of this disease. In addition, contributes to the development of the disease excess weight in a person, because of which the ankle is constantly exercising a large load and, eventually, the tissues of the joint begin to break down.

Other causes of the disease may be:

  • ankle injury in the joint area, including fractures, dislocations, subluxations
  • congenital dysplasia leading to imperfection of the human bone system
  • chronic inflammatory processes in the ankle region, against which secondary osteoarthritis develops;
  • permanent micro-traumas that can occur in people involved in sports (for example, jumps in length or height) or for women who constantly wear shoes with heels

Of course, not always and not all develop deforming osteoarthritis of the ankle joint. Therefore, researchers talk about the presence of predisposing factors, which can have a direct effect on the probability of development of this or that person of this disease. These factors include:

  1. hereditary connective tissue diseases and congenital bone diseases
  2. disturbance of metabolic processes in the body
  3. lack of vitamins and some trace elements
  4. endocrine disorders in the body, including those that occur in the body of the fair sex during the menopause.

Symptoms and Degrees of Disease

Symptoms of the disease depend on its degree. But nevertheless a characteristic manifestation of pathology is pain, which is amplified by the load on the ankle, and at rest its intensity decreases. At the initial stage of the disease, the pain at rest can completely disappear, at the second stage this symptom is present constantly, with the only difference being that when the pain is painful it is painful and at rest it is aching.

This disease is characterized by the so-called starting pain, which a person feels in the morning, getting up from bed. It is acute and pronounced, lasting a few minutes at the first degree of the disease, and a longer time in the development of pathology. Then the pain subsides, the joint begins to be slowly developed and a person can walk.

With deforming osteoarthritis, there are also other signs of the disease, in addition to pain, this is:

  • stiffness in the joint (especially in the morning, after rest)
  • mobility impairment
  • swelling (with the development of the inflammatory process)
  • redness and local temperature increase.

Because the bone structure is growing in the affected joint, at times the ankle can «jam», which causes a person not only inconvenience, but also severe pain.

At the third degree of the disease there are significant deformities of the ankle, because of which the stop begins to heel in one direction and the human gait is greatly disturbed. Also at this degree of disease, severe and irreversible changes occur in the cartilage, bones and even muscles in the ankle.

As it becomes clear from the above, the degree of development of osteoarthritis can be as follows:

  1. First
  2. Second,
  3. The third, or actually deforming osteoarthritis.

When a person has a disease in the first degree, he feels minor discomfort in the affected ankle. Legs become tired with prolonged walking, but at rest discomfortable sensations quickly disappear. Starting pains are absent. To this extent, the disease is easily treated by the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and chondroprotectors.

With a second degree of pain, a person feels pain not only with an ankle load, but also at rest. For example, at night, it can wake up because the joint is not aching, and also aching pain can occur as a reaction to changing weather conditions.

Violation of mobility in the joint, sometimes there may be signs of displacement of the bone structures of the joint relative to each other. In the morning, a person can not develop an ankle for a long time. There is a crunch and clicks in the joint when moving. Treatment of this degree of disease is long and is aimed at preventing further destruction of the joint.

With the third degree of destruction in the joint progress, the process involves bones, ligaments, cartilage and muscles. The foot bends — on the one hand muscles overstretch, on the other hand, on the contrary, spasmodic. Mobility in the joint is completely absent, the pain is extremely pronounced, both under load and at rest.


Before prescribing the treatment of ankle osteoarthritis, the doctor examines the patient and diagnoses the stage at which the process is located. The initial stages require conservative treatment — sometimes it is enough to reduce the load on the affected ankle, for example, lose weight or refuse to wear heels. Also, the doctor can recommend a special therapeutic gymnastics for the ankle, which will allow to develop the joint and improve its blood supply, and, consequently, nutrition.

At the second degree, treatment should be complex, and it consists in taking medications (painkillers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory tablets, ointments and gels) and in carrying out physiotherapy procedures and exercise therapy.

The most effective physiotherapy procedures for this pathology are:

  • Electrophoresis;
  • Magnetotherapy
  • paraffin therapy;
  • UHF-irradiation

The third degree, that is, progressive osteoarthritis with deformity of the foot, is treated surgically — most often mechanically, remove excess tissue. Prosthetic ankle is used very rarely.