Ankle Arthritis: symptoms and treatment

Instabilité de cheville

What is it?

Arthritis is defined by as wear and tear to the cartilage, which is the white tissue covering the bone in joints. Cartilage loss is irreversible. It gradually results in a stiffness of the joint whose mobility is rapidly altered.
The progression of the disease is characterised by the development of growths or bony spurs around the joint (= osteophytes). Mechanical conflicts then occur between the various growths. Three types of discomfort occur with this condition: loss of mobility, joint pain and the development of osteophytes.

Cheville normale vs arthrose de cheville
  • Fig. 1

    Normal ankle

  • Fig. 2

    Arthritic ankle with destruction of joint cartilage and osteophytes

Unlike the hip, knee, shoulder or vertebrae, the ankle joint is relatively little affected by arthritis and, in general, is not primitive. A history of major trauma is almost always the origin, including fractures of the ankle, talus or the distal tibia (the part of the tibia that forms the ankle). Ankle instability or degenerative conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or haemophilia can also result in progressive arthritis.

Clinical presentation

Arthritis is tolerated differently from one patient to another; however, pain remains the primary reason for consulting a doctor. The pain generally increases with movement and is alleviated by rest. It is usually worse at the end of the day compared with first thing in the morning. Pain at night is a warning sign and generally indicates advanced arthritis.

The mobility of the ankle is systemically decreased and causes pain.

When should you consult a specialist?

If you experience recurrent or nighttime pain, it is advisable to consult a specialist.

The physical examination will focus primarily on the areas of pain, the residual mobility of the ankle and the lower limb axes. In general, x-rays and a scan will also be carried out.

Do you have any questions or would you like to see a specialist?