Is Your Ankle Pain Arthritis?
Constant or intermittent pain in joints like knees, wrists, or fingers can be arthritis. The inflammatory disease breaks down the cartilage between joints. Arthritis is a broad term that covers over 100 different conditions and impacts 1 in 5 adults. Surprisingly, the ankle can also fall victim to arthritis.
Rare but painful
The ankle creates a joint where the end of the leg bones meets the talus bone. This allows the joint to move up and down and rotate. With cartilage broken down, the ankle becomes painful and has trouble moving around effectively. With no cartilage, the banging of bones together can also cause painful bone spurs. Of all the joints arthritis hits, the ankle, fortunately, is one of the least affected. Approximately 1% of adults suffer from osteoarthritis of the ankle. So if ankle arthritis is a literal pain, there are a few ways to deal with the condition.
The simple treatment options available
Painkillers can stop the pain, but cannot prevent the inflammation. To deal with inflammation, a doctor will recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Based on the type of arthritis, there are also drugs like disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologic response modifiers. Aside from these treatments, therapy and exercise can help with the range of movement and strengthen muscles. If all else fails, the next step may be surgery.
Turning to total ankle replacement
People with advanced arthritis may need a total ankle replacement. Ankle replacement or arthroplasty seeks to remove damaged cartilage and provide prosthetic parts. This process is done by making an incision on the front of the ankle. Then the surgeon removes any damaged bone and cartilage. This includes removing the ends of the tibia and fibula. The surgeon will smooth away any spurs or damaged bone, then insert the prosthetic joint. The operation time varies, but on average, the surgery takes about 2 Ω hours.
Not as often as you’d think
Despite the effectiveness, ankle arthroplasty does not happen often. Between 1998-2010, less than 1 per 100,000 patients got surgery. That number has since increased to more than 2.4 per 100,000. Doctors can treat most cases of ankle arthritis with non-surgical techniques. The ankle will need to be seriously degraded, and the pain unbearable, to decide on arthroplasty.
Could a new ankle make a difference?
Ankle replacement can help relieve discomfort caused by arthritis. Surgery also reduces sharp pains and aches, especially when walking and climbing. As with all surgery, the procedure does pose risks such as infection, poor ankle-bone quality, and limited movement. Please consult a doctor before deciding any surgery. Patients with diabetes should be especially careful, as this may cause circulatory issues. Don’t be out of commission because of arthritis. Get the right treatment today.
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