Osteoarthritis of the ankle and foot
Summary of Osteoarthritis of the ankle and foot
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition involving the breakdown of the cartilage around the joint surfaces, affecting middle aged and older generations. As a condition it is particularly prevalent in the weight bearing joints such as the hip and the knees, with osteoarthritis of the ankle or foot generally occurring following a trauma.
Osteoarthritis of the ankle and foot FAQ's
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition which can particularly affect weight-bearing joints such as the hip and the knees, by wear and tear. It occurs when the smooth cartilage around the end of the joint erodes and breaks down, causing the end of the joints to rub and cause pain. Small bony spurs can develop which affect movement. In the case of the foot and ankle, the condition generally follows a previous trauma.
The most common symptoms are pain and stiffness in the ankle, making movement or standing for long periods of time very difficult. Sufferers also complain of swelling in the ankle and difficulty climbing stairs, squatting or bending. It is often reported that the pain and stiffness is worst in the morning or in cold weather.
In most cases of ankle osteoarthritis, the patient will have suffered a previous ankle injury, years before there is evidence of osteoarthritis in the ankle. Injury can damage the cartilage, thus advancing the degenerative process. A fracture of the ankle joint can affect the movement of the joint, resulting in stiffness and uneven wear and tear. The condition can also be associated with repetitive use of a joint for occupational or sporting purposes (especially kicking sports such as football). In most individuals, the signs and symptoms do not appear until middle age, but the disease process starts much earlier. Genetics can also play a part in the development of any form of osteoarthritis, and being overweight has been associated with the disease.
Though osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that cannot be avoided, there are treatments available to make living with the condition much easier. These treatments include exercise, ankle supports, losing weight, diet and food supplements, and in some cases oral medication. Exercise is important to keep the joints loose, with tailored movements intended to strengthen the joints and reduce the pain. Losing weight will also be aided by additional exercise, and will lessen the strain on the ankle joint. Ankle supports may be recommended to protect the joint, and it is also recommended you look for footwear which will keep your foot in a stable, correct position and support the ankle where necessary. There are some dietary considerations that can improve the symptoms, for example omega 3 is meant to help the joints. Some supplements are also reported to provide relief to those with osteoarthritis, such as Glucosamine Sulphate. Anti-inflammatory medication may well be prescribed to deal with the swelling and pain that comes with it.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition and thus is irreversible. Early intervention is key to preventing further breakdown and decline, by kickstarting the treatment early and managing the condition.
The exercises prescribed are one of the key elements of your management of the condition, both in terms of managing the pain and further degeneration. Exercises that increase the joint mobility of the ankle will decrease pain and stiffness and increase muscle strength.