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HealthInfo Canterbury

Overview of foot & ankle arthritis

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, often making it difficult to walk and do the things you enjoy.

Several conditions can increase your risk of getting arthritis. However, 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:

Important

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 GP, physiotherapist or podiatrist will examine your feet or ankles and 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 isn't 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 doesn't work, your doctor may recommend surgery.

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

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2021.

Page reference: 342986

Review key: HIOST-35589