Diagnosing A Painful Ankle

Constant ankle pain and discomfort can impact mobility and affect overall quality of life. While many people write the pain off as general soreness, there is evidence that many cases of ankle discomfort are due to arthritis. Properly assessing the signs and symptoms of ankle pain can lead to the right treatment, such as subtalar fusion surgery.


Is arthritis at play?

A common joint condition experienced by millions of adults, arthritis is the wear and tear of cartilage and bone in joints. Arthritis is common in joints like the knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and ankles. There are several types of arthritis, with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) being the most common. Typical signs of arthritis include joint pain, stiffness, weakness, and swelling. People with arthritis can experience limited movement, needing long-term treatment to address joint damage.

Conservative approach to joint pain

In some cases, arthritis can benefit from conservative treatment, including physical therapy (PT) and medication. There are also exercises, massages, and supplements that can improve the joint’s health. Recently, regenerative medicine like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or hyaluronic acid has been effective in treating ankle arthritis. However, there are times when conservative treatment options fail to bring relief, and surgery in the form of subtalar fusion is necessary.

Fuse that joint

The subtalar joint is often the source of ankle arthritis. The joint wears away over time, leading to pain when walking, running, or moving on uneven surfaces. Subtalar fusion, or arthrodesis, is a surgical procedure that fixes ankle pain by fusing the joint between the talus and the calcaneus. The procedure starts with incisions made around the joint. The surgeon then removes the damaged ligaments and bones. Special metal components, like plates and rods, hold the bones in place. Over time, the bones grow and fuse to form a solid piece.

Benefits of subtalar fusion

After recovery, patients should experience a significant reduction in ankle pain. Surgery removes the cartilage and bone causing discomfort, and restores movement, allowing patients to enjoy physical activity again. There will be reduced flexibility in the joint, but with a commitment to post-op PT, range of motion (ROM) can be almost fully restored. Patients who opt for surgery will also have to do less conservative treatment, saving time and money. Studies show the procedure also has a high success rate.

Enjoy a pain-free ankle

Arthritis is sometimes inevitable, even impacting those with a healthy lifestyle. Joints will degenerate with age and limit movement as a result. There are non-surgical options available, but there are times when conservative approaches are insufficient. With subtalar fusion, the damaged cartilage is removed, improving mobility and reducing pain. Take the necessary steps to regain a functional ankle and enjoy life again.

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