Osteoarthritis of the ankle joint

osteoarthritis of the ankle joint

Inflammation of bone and cartilage tissues is a pressing problem for people around the world living in modern society. Recently, the most frequently diagnosed disease of this type has become osteoarthritis of the ankle joint.

Over time, the progression of the disease can lead to limitation or complete loss of motor activity of the lower extremities, which often leads to extremely negative consequences: disability.

The seriousness of the consequences makes it important to understand the causes, as well as knowledge of the symptoms and therapeutic characteristics of ankle osteoarthritis.

Ankle osteoarthritis – what is it?

Osteoarthritis of the ankle jointis a disease, the progression of which is accompanied by the destruction of the cartilaginous tissue of the joint of the lower extremities, as well as adjacent bones.

It should also be noted that ankle osteoarthritis is characterized by a chronic character and an undulating course (systematic periods of exacerbations followed by remissions).

The disease is characteristic mainly of people of the older generation, but recently it is increasingly appearing in a situation where osteoarthritis is diagnosed in people under 45 years old. According to statistical data, destruction of the cartilage tissue of the ankle is detected in 6% of candidates.

A timely diagnosis and a well-defined treatment plan for ankle osteoarthritis can completely cure the disease.

Main causes and principles of development of ankle osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis of the ankle joint is a special disease that can be a primary or secondary phenomenon, in which the disease progresses after injury or inflammation.

Regardless of the type, osteoarthritis occurs mainly in conditions of disruption of natural processes occurring inside the articular cartilage.

Considering the key factors in the development of the disease, it is worth highlighting:

  • microtrauma, as well as serious injuries to the ankle joint;
  • excess body weight;
  • perform surgery on a joint;
  • poorly chosen shoes, abuse of high heels;
  • excessive physical activity;
  • metabolic disorders caused by various diseases (gout, hormonal imbalance);
  • diseases of the musculoskeletal system;
  • genetic predisposition;
  • bad ecology.

Under normal metabolic conditions, superficial joint tissues are characterized by their softness and elasticity, ensuring unhindered gliding during movement.

When a joint is injured or metabolic processes are disrupted, the softness and elasticity of the tissues are lost, which causes friction and significantly aggravates the consequences.

Types and degrees of ankle osteoarthritis

Today, it is customary to distinguish two types of osteoarthritis localized in the ankle joint:

  • primary– development of pathological processes directly on healthy cartilage tissues;
  • secondary (post-traumatic)– degenerative processes that occur during the development of various types of diseases/injuries.

Furthermore, modern medicine also distinguishes between several degrees of degenerative disease:

1st degree ankle osteoarthritis– the first stage of the development of the disease, accompanied by a clear manifestation of symptoms. Patients mainly complain of symptoms such as:

  • increased fatigue;
  • leg pain.

During diagnostic procedures, pathological processes are practically invisible, which complicates the process of identifying the disease.

Osteoarthritis of the ankle joint 2 degrees– manifests itself as intense pain which disrupts the healthy sleep of patients.

Visual signs of the disease appear. Inflammation of the joint becomes visually noticeable: a local change in skin color (redness) occurs, as well as an increase in its temperature. Additionally, swelling begins, movements are limited.

3rd degree ankle osteoarthritis– is accompanied by pronounced discomfort and intense, aching pain, a sign of the beginning of the transformation of cartilage into bone tissue.

Joint mobility is limited or completely lost. Joint movements occur with a crunching sound.

The lack of necessary treatment for ankle arthrosis in the later stages of the disease inevitably leads to the loss of the ability to work and obtaining the status of "disabled".

Symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis

Before understanding how and how to treat ankle osteoarthritis, it is important to identify the symptoms.

Considering the clinical picture of the disease, it can be noted that the main symptoms of osteoarthritis localized in the ankle joint are increased fatigue and severe pain. As the disease develops, the situation worsens, leading to increased pain that does not go away even during periods of rest and prolonged sleep.

Over time, motor activity in the affected joint is significantly limited and a fairly severe deformity of the ankle is visually visible. However, in addition to this, symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis include:

  • an increase in pain even with minor effort;
  • discoloration of the skin and swelling of the tissues of the affected joint;
  • swelling of the foot;
  • characteristic cracking sound when moving the joint;
  • loss of ability to move the ankle freely;
  • local increase in temperature indicators.

The presence of a few, or even just one, symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis should be a reason for urgently seeking qualified medical help.

Which doctor should I contact and how to treat ankle osteoarthritis?

Doctors such as an orthopedic traumatologist and a rheumatologist treat ankle osteoarthritis. If you suspect the presence of a disease, you should refrain from self-medication. Ignoring symptomatic manifestations can aggravate degenerative processes and lead to extremely negative consequences.

Osteoarthritis of the ankle joint of grades 1 and 2 can be successfully treated. This is why, as soon as the first signs appear, it is important to contact your local doctor, who will refer you to a specialist for a diagnosis.

Despite the complexity of the situation, ankle osteoarthritis grade 3 is also treatable, but most of the time radical measures are used.

Today, various methods are used to treat ankle osteoarthritis, including non-drug therapy and medications.

Let's take a closer look at the available methods.

Physiotherapy for ankle osteoarthritis

Physiotherapyis a unique field of modern medicine that uses natural and artificially created physical abilities for the prevention and treatment of various diseases.

The use of physiotherapy as a treatment for ankle osteoarthritis allows you to significantly reduce the amount or even completely eliminate the use of medications.

Physiotherapy methods help to significantly improve blood circulation in the affected joint, which ensures the activation and acceleration of the recovery processes occurring inside the ankle.

In the treatment of ankle osteoarthritis, the following are used:

  • laser irradiation;
  • ultrasonic influence;
  • electrical stimulation.

Treatment for ankle osteoarthritis is determined based on the symptoms that appear and the intensity of the disease.

Massage and ankle osteoarthritis

Massageis a complex of mechanical and reflex techniques, the use of which ensures increased blood circulation, which significantly accelerates the restoration of affected tissues.

Treatment of ankle osteoarthritis with massage, in addition to reducing the rate of progression of the disease, helps prevent the risk of its exacerbation.

Only a specialist who knows the structural features of the joints can perform massage to treat osteoarthritis of the ankle. It is important to note that the duration of the massage should be at least 25 minutes.

Using massage in tandem with exercises for ankle osteoarthritis will ensure that the most effective results are achieved in a relatively short time.

Exercises and exercise therapy for ankle osteoarthritis

Despite the fact that many believe that physical therapy (physiotherapy) for osteoarthritis is ineffective, physical activity is the key to getting rid of the hated pain and significantly improving well-being.

Correctly selected exercises for ankle osteoarthritis lead to:

  • eradication of the feeling of stiffness when walking;
  • activation of blood circulation in the internal tissues of the joint;
  • slow down, and in some cases even completely stop the progression of the disease;
  • restoration, improvement of quality of life.

It is important to note that for ankle arthrosis, exercises are chosen exclusively in accordance with the recommendations of the attending physician.

Surgical intervention for ankle osteoarthritis

In a situation where conservative treatment of ankle arthrosis does not give the desired results, a more radical method of eliminating the disease comes to the rescue: surgery.

Today, the following types of surgical interventions are possible:

  • endoprostheses– total ankle arthroplasty;
  • arthroscopy– elimination of excessive formations inside the ankle;
  • arthrodesis– immobilization of the ankle while preserving the remains of cartilage.

Surgery falls into the category of last resort methods to treat osteoarthritis of the ankle. A timely diagnosis and a well-structured treatment plan can avoid the need for drastic measures.

In order to consolidate the postoperative result and accelerate the recovery of the joint, specialists prescribe a set of exercises for osteoarthritis of the ankle.

Treatment of ankle osteoarthritis with medication

Drug treatment of ankle osteoarthritis is part of complex therapy, providing the possibility of relieving unpleasant symptoms and stopping degenerative changes.

How to treat ankle arthrosis can only be determined by a specialist who knows the characteristics of the diagnosed disease. Self-medication with medications can cause irreparable damage to the body.

All drugs intended for the treatment of ankle arthrosis are divided into several groups, each of which differs not only in the principles of action, but also in the degree of effectiveness.

Let's look at some of them in more detail.

Anti-inflammatories and analgesics

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of ankle osteoarthritis are used at different stages of the development of the disease.

The main goal of this type of action is to relieve pain and relieve inflammation in the joint.

Today, the drug market offers anti-inflammatories and painkillers not only in the form of gels and ointments, but also in the form of tablets, patches and injections.

Antispasmodics-muscle relaxants

Medications for the treatment of ankle osteoarthritis, such as antispasmodics and muscle relaxants, are prescribed as an active aid in the fight against spasms of the muscles adjacent to the affected joints.

Antispasmodics provide muscle relaxation and pain relief. .


Chondroprotectoris a drug for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the ankle joint, stimulating the production of a sufficient amount of intra-articular fluid, which ensures accelerated tissue regeneration and saturation with essential vitamins and minerals.

Possible complications

In the absence of comprehensive treatment of ankle osteoarthritis, the likelihood of complete recovery is reduced to almost zero.

Self-treatment and ignoring the symptoms of the disease inevitably lead to immobilization of limbs and disability.

In the presence of symptoms and insufficient treatment of ankle arthrosis, the progression of destructive processes causes the appearance of osteophytes (growths on bone tissue), which negatively affects the quality of a person's life.

Constant swelling of the tissues of the affected joint can also provoke the development of pathological processes in the blood vessels, in particular, deterioration of blood circulation, impaired blood flow.

Long-term destructive processes developing in the joint lead to immobilization of the ankle, which increases the risk of concomitant diseases and injuries.

Basic principles of diet nutrition for ankle osteoarthritis

According to many studies, it has been found that osteoarthritis mainly occurs in people who do not follow their diet.

Following a diet and taking into account certain nutritional principles accelerates the treatment of many diseases, including osteoarthritis.

The key principle of nutrition for osteoarthritis is balance. In addition, criteria such as:

  • regularity of meals;
  • variety of food products;
  • correspondence between nutritional value and intensity of energy expenditure.

During the period of treatment and rehabilitation, the patient's diet should consist mainly of dishes prepared on the basis of gelatin. In addition, it is important to give preference to foods enriched with vitamins of various groups and other beneficial microelements.

To speed up your recovery, it is also recommended to avoid drinking sugary soft drinks and alcohol.

Prevention of ankle osteoarthritis

The best treatment for ankle osteoarthritis isprevention.

To minimize or completely eliminate the risk of degenerative-dystrophic processes in the ankle, experts around the world recommend adhering to the simplest principles:

  • constant monitoring of diet;
  • tracking and controlling optimal body weight;
  • caution and avoidance of lower limb injuries;
  • allow enough time for a good warm-up before physical activity;
  • rapid treatment of inflammatory diseases;
  • maintain an optimal balance of microelements in the body.

Compliance with the simplest preventive recommendations will eliminate the risk of symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis and limit the need to treat conditions of this type.

Remember that consulting a doctor when observing the first symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis guarantees its timely diagnosis and successful, high-quality treatment.