The osteoarthritis process is gradual, and symptoms can occur and go away and eventually worsen over a number of years. Chronic pain in the ankle should not be ignored. Understanding the causes and symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis, getting an accurate diagnosis and following an effective treatment program can contribute to long-term healthy ankle function and increase the likelihood of walking with minimal pain. This article will look at the symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis.

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Common signs and symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis





The following is a list of typical symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis.

Ankle pain.

Patients may experience pain in the lower tibia (lower leg), in the back of the foot, or in the middle of the foot. The pain can be aching, dull, or sharp and intense. Pain may come and go, or there may be a chronic low level of pain with intermittent bursts of more severe pain. In the early stages, many patients report experiencing pain only after certain activities that put stress on the ankle joint, such as jogging or long walking. As a rule, this pain in the ankle joint can be reduced by resting, raising the foot or squeezing and ice.

The rigidity of the ankle joint.

Edema and bone friction make the ankle stiff and less flexible. The range of motion of the ankle may become more limited, which makes it difficult to point and flex finger movement.

Inactivity makes it worse.

After prolonged inactivity, the ankle may become stiff. People with ankle osteoarthritis may find that stiffness and pain are most noticeable when they try to get out of bed in the morning or out of an armchair after a long sitting.

Swelling of the ankles.

When the cartilage is abraded at the ankle, the fibula, tibia, and talus can rub against each other, which leads to irritation and swelling of the ankle joint.

Ankle pops up or crunches.

A crunching sensation or a popping or creaking sound when pointing or bending toes is a sign that the cartilage is worn and does not protect the bones from friction.

Ankle instability.

Walking can sometimes cause a blockage or screed, which can cause the ankle to twist out or in. These episodes can be reduced or eliminated by wearing low-heeled support shoes.

Bad gait.

Advanced osteoarthritis can lead to uneven ankle cartilage deterioration. The bones and joint material can be moved to compensate for uneven wear. This can affect how a person walks and ultimately even causes arthritis in the knee and hip joints.



In most, but not all cases, symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis come and go, becoming worse and more common over several months or years. Left untreated, ankle arthritis can seriously hamper mobility.

On the other hand, treatment in the early stages of arthritis can significantly slow down the progressive symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis.

Lifestyle changes

Ankle arthritis is a degenerative disease, but with the right treatment, the degenerative process usually slows down and the pain can be controlled.

Arthritis treatment can range from simple lifestyle modifications to surgery. The procedures are considered as follows:

  • Lifestyle changes.
  • Medical intervention.
  • The introduction of the drug.
  • Surgery.

Some simple lifestyle changes, such as changing shoes and exercise habits, can go a long way in developing ankle osteoarthritis.

Activity change.

Certain activities and exercises will aggravate the ankle joint. These actions should be avoided and alternatives may be identified. For example, jogging can be replaced by a bicycle or swimming, which has less force on the ankle joint.

Although painful osteoarthritis of the ankle joint can scare someone away from physical activity, less physical activity is not recommended. In fact, inaction is harmful and often leads to other health problems. A doctor can work with an individual patient to find alternatives or adaptive strategies for everyday activities that cause pain.

Auxiliary shoes.

People with ankle arthritis should wear shoes that provide good support and prevent the ankle from “swinging”, causing the foot to turn or pop out. High heels and flip flops should be avoided. Tall shoes and boots can help stabilize the ankle.

Periodic rest.

Slight discomfort should be expected, as hard joints weaken in the morning or at the beginning of the exercise. However, when people feel bone pain or burning pain, they should not try to “work through the pain.” Moderate pain to severe ankle pain is a signal that the joint needs to rest. If the pain does not subside within a few days of rest, seek medical attention.



Warm or cold compress.

Using a warming pad or bath for several minutes can weaken the stiff ankle joint, making it easier to work. The icing of the ankle for 15 or 20 minutes after activity can reduce swelling and provide immediate pain relief. Heating or icing the joint can temporarily improve symptoms: but it does not alleviate the underlying causes of pain in the ankle and does not improve long-term joint function per se.

Losing weight.

A diet to maintain a healthy weight can bring big dividends to those who suffer from ankle osteoarthritis. Each additional kilogram on the body can translate into 2 additional kilograms of pressure acting on the ankle. For people who are overweight or obese, weight loss will significantly reduce pressure and tension on the ankle joint, thereby alleviating painful symptoms and slowing the progression of ankle osteoarthritis.

When lifestyle changes are not enough to treat the symptoms of ankle osteoarthritis, people should contact their doctor and consider treatment.

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