Woman holding hurting foot

Foot and ankle arthritis​

Arthritis, or degenerative wear and tear of the joints, causes pain, swelling and limited movement. It's a chronic (ongoing), disease that can lead to deformity and reduced joint function. If left untreated, arthritis in your ankles and feet can grow from a dull throbbing ache to constant, active pain that limits your ability to move freely.

The two most common kinds of ankle and foot arthritis are: 

  • Osteoarthritis—is a common disease of the ankle and foot joints involving wear and tear on the cartilage, joint lining, ligaments and bone.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joint. It starts in the small joints of your hands or feet and usually affects the same joints on each side of your body. Most people with rheumatoid arthritis experience symptoms in their feet and ankles over the course of their illness.

Foot and ankle arthritis symptoms    

Symptoms of arthritis in the ankle and foot include:

  • Difficulty walking

  • Pain and stiffness in the joint

  • Problems bending the joint

  • Reduced mobility

  • Swelling in or near the joint

  • Warmth and redness in the joint

Foot and ankle arthritis diagnosis 

The nationally recognized orthopedic specialists at The Christ Hospital Health Network carefully examine your ankles and feet, assess their condition, and determine the nature and extent of their damage.

If further tests are needed they may include:

  • Bone scan—a radiology procedure used to look at the skeleton to find areas of physical and chemical changes in bone.

  • Computed Tomography scan (CT scan)—a scan that uses a powerful magnet and radio waves linked to a computer to create detailed images of the ankle or foot.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)—uses a magnet, radio frequencies and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs and structures inside your body.

  • X-rays—an electromagnetic energy beam that makes images of the bones and tissue of the ankle and foot.

Foot and ankle arthritis treatment

Currently, there is no cure for arthritis; however, there are many things that can be done to get relief from its symptoms. Our expert team at The Christ Hospital Health Network develops an individualized treatment plan to help reduce your pain and increase your mobility. 

Treatments for ankle and foot arthritis can include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—medicines such as ibuprofen or naproxen that reduce inflammation and pain.

  • Orthotic devices, or shoe inserts—provide support and cushioning.

  • Steroid injections—an anti-inflammatory steroid is injected into the ankle or foot joint to reduce inflammation and pain.

  • Surgery—depends on which joints are affected and the degree of damage. Surgery options may include arthroscopy, ankle fusion or ankle joint replacement.

  • Weight management—maintain a healthy weight to avoid excess stress on the ankle and foot joints.

At The Christ Hospital Health Network, we provide exceptional care for ankle and foot arthritis.

Find a foot and ankle specialist near you.