Understanding Ankle Arthritis and Non-Surgical Options for Treatment

February 8, 2022

Arthritis most commonly affects the knees, fingers and hips. In rarer cases, it can work its way to the ankles and toes, causing painful swelling and changes in the way you walk. Although there aren’t any permanent cures for ankle arthritis, there are many non-surgical treatments available to help alleviate discomfort and allow people to engage in daily activities without experiencing as much pain.

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis causes inflammation of the joints, which are parts of the body where two or more bones meet to allow you to move. The inflammation occurs when the cushion-like cartilage in your joints wears down, leaving your bones bare and causing pain as they continue to rub against each another.

Common symptoms of arthritis in the ankle include pain, swelling, stiffness, loss of mobility and deformity of the ankle.

Which Types of Arthritis Affect the Ankle?

While arthritis encompasses more than 100 diseases, there are a few types of arthritis that can specifically target the ankle.


Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means your immune system has trouble differentiating between threats and healthy tissue. This results in the immune system attacking healthy tissue, leading to chronic inflammation.

In more severe cases, RA can damage not only your joints but also essential organs like the lungs, heart and blood vessels. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can include difficulties ascending or descending stairs and inclines and pain in the ankle when standing or walking.


Osteoarthritis is the more common, natural and sometimes inevitable form of arthritis. It’s generally the result of wear and tear on your joints due to aging and decades of use. While ankle osteoarthritis is most frequently a consequence of degeneration, it may also occur due to an ankle injury. Serious ankle injuries can cause considerable damage to the joint cartilage, resulting in ongoing pain in or around the ankle.


As the name suggests, this type of arthritis is the result of an injury. If you’ve ever sprained, dislocated or fractured your ankle, it’s possible the injury caused damage to the joint cartilage. Post-traumatic damage to your joints may take several years to manifest, but the pain in your ankle will likely be just as intense as with other types of arthritis.


Reactive arthritis is triggered by an infection in another part of your body. Typically, urinary tract and genital infections are the culprits behind a person’s reactive arthritis.  The inflammation usually occurs in the feet, ankles and knees.

How to Diagnose Ankle Arthritis

If you suspect you’re suffering from ankle arthritis, the dedicated physicians at Non-Surgical Orthopaedics can diagnose your condition and recommend a personalized treatment plan. We will use a range of diagnostic methods, such as a detailed medical interview, physical examination, X-rays and an on-site MRI to ensure we have an in-depth understanding of your unique condition.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Ankle Arthritis

There are many non-surgical strategies that can potentially help manage ankle arthritis:

  •         Steroid injections
  •         Regenerative Medicine
  •         Anti-inflammatory medication
  •         Over-the-counter pain relivers, like Tylenol or Ibuprofen
  •         Over-the-counter topical creams, like capsaicin cream
  •         Heat and ice therapy to soothe sore ankles
  •         Physical therapy (under the supervision of your doctor)
  •         Wearing an ankle brace to stabilize the ankle joint
  •         Wearing cushioned shoes that reduce impact on the ankle while standing or walking
  •         Using a cane or a walker to reduce stress on your ankle joints
  •         Eating a clean and nutrient-dense diet tailored to reduce inflammation
  •         Losing weight to lessen pressure on the joints

Contact Non-Surgical Orthopaedics in Georgia for a Comprehensive Arthritis Management Plan

At Non-Surgical Orthopaedics, our goal is to help you manage your arthritis symptoms, so your condition doesn’t stop you from living your best life.

Whether you’re suffering from arthritis or other sources of acute or chronic joint pain, we can help alleviate your condition with a wide range of pain management treatments. Our experienced orthopaedic physicians will carefully examine and diagnose your symptoms before crafting a personalized treatment plan.

If you’re in the Marietta or Carrolton area, we’d love to meet you. Call 770-421-1420 or visit us online to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.