Greetings .. Gloria is away this week, and will resume posting on February 4, 2008. In the meantime, please enjoy this article about Ankle Arthritis. // HART
There are different types of arthritis but the most common, osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that gradually reduces the cartilage in joints. With the cartilage the bones in the joint rake together and causes pain in addition to the prospect of bone damage. While arthritis can affect many joints, ankle arthritis is one of the most painful and the ankle and foot consist of 28 bones and about 30 joints, any one of which can lead to trouble walking due to the pain.
While arthritis can affect any of the joints, the most common is where the end of the shin bone rests on the top of the ankle bone. When a person is suffering ankle arthritis, their entire weight is placed on this bone and if the cartilage is worn thin or has been removed through disease, walking will be painful, if not impossible. Ankle arthritis can also affect the heel bone, the middle bone or arch as well as the first joints of the toes. With the body’s weight distributed on these joints, there is bound to be pain regardless of which joint is affected.
A bone scan may follow a gait analysis to diagnose ankle arthritis, and may be followed by a bone scan to determine the extent of cartilage loss and to detect any bone damage. Magnetic Resonance Imaging or Computerized Tomography may also be used in the diagnostic process.
Conservative Treatments Used At Onset Of Ankle Arthritis
Most physicians will treat a newly diagnosed patient with ankle arthritis with anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers. They may also recommend an arch support in the shoes or another similar device to help take some of the weight off the affected area. Custom-made shoes with a solid arch may also be needed to help stiffen the joint offering the most trouble.
The doctor may also suggest wearing a brace around the ankle to prevent the bones from sliding together as well as using a cane. In patients that may be over weight, an exercise program to help them shed the extra pounds may be recommended. They may also treat the pain of ankle arthritis with steroid injections to help provide a temporary padding into the joint.
If the non-invasive treatments are not producing the desired effects to rid the pain of ankle arthritis, arthroscopic surgery may be used to peer into the joint and remove any unwanted bone fragments that have worked their way into the cartilage areas of the joint. The most severe cases of ankle arthritis may require replacing the joint with an artificial one made of metal and plastic.