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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of foot & ankle arthritis

Mō te pona kakā ki te waewae me te pungapunga

A normal ankle with smooth surfaces and a clear space between the bones. An arthritic ankle with damaged surfaces and bits of crumbling boneArthritis causes inflammation in one or more of your joints. Many of the different types of arthritis can happen in your feet and ankles. This can make it difficult to walk and do the things you enjoy.

Several conditions can increase your risk of getting arthritis. But it is most often caused by having a previously broken ankle bone, or some other ankle injury.

As well, the following foot conditions can cause arthritis in your ankles or feet:

Symptoms of foot & ankle arthritis

If you have arthritis in your feet or ankles, your joints may be:


Septic arthritis is a very painful joint infection that needs urgent medical attention. If you have sudden swelling of a joint, severe joint pain, redness and heat around the joint, a fever, or are generally feeling unwell, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Diagnosing foot & ankle arthritis

To diagnose arthritis in your ankles or feet your general practice team, physiotherapist or podiatrist will examine your feet or ankles. They will also ask you questions about the pain, how bad it is and how it affects you.

They may suggest an X-ray to confirm that you have arthritis, but this is not always necessary.

Treating foot & ankle arthritis

Usually you treat foot and ankle arthritis through lifestyle changes and treatments such as orthotics, bracing, appropriate pain relief and physiotherapy. This is often called non-operative or non-surgical treatment. If this does not work, your doctor may recommend surgery.

On the next page: Self-care for foot & ankle arthritis

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2024.


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