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Post Traumatic Arthritis in the Ankle

Is there any way to prevent post traumatic arthritis from developing in the ankle after an injury?

According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis affects more than 50 million adults and over a quarter million children in the U.S. and is the leading cause of disability for those aged 15 and older. Arthritis, which describes inflammation or swelling in and around joints, is actually a general term that encompasses more than 100 different types of this disease. The types most likely to affect the ankle are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and post traumatic arthritis.

Osteoarthritis, where the cartilage in the joints breaks down and allows the bones to rub together, is the most common type of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, a type of autoimmune disease in which your body attacks healthy joint tissue, can eventually lead to deformities in the joints and even attack other part parts of the body, such as the heart, lungs, eyes or skin.

The third type of arthritis that often affects the ankle, post traumatic arthritis, is a condition triggered by some sort of acute joint trauma, often happening years earlier. Dislocations and fractures are the most common types of injuries that lead to post traumatic arthritis and may come from a variety of sources, like falling, playing sports, vehicle accidents or on-the-job injuries. Similar to osteoarthritis, post traumatic arthritis results in the wearing away of the cartilage between the joints. It may only take a single incident to set this process in motion, but repeated injuries are believed to increase the risk. While the arthritis may develop many years after the initial injury, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, those who have suffered damage to a joint are seven times more likely to develop arthritis than those who have not.

Symptoms of Post Traumatic Arthritis

It doesn’t feel quite fair that an injury from years ago that was adequately treated and seemed to be perfectly healed could come back and haunt you, but that is exactly the way post traumatic arthritis works.  Symptoms that suggest arthritis has developed include:

  • Pain during movement
  • Tenderness when pressure is applied to the ankle joint
  • Swelling, warmth and redness in the ankle joint
  • Pain and swelling more evident in the morning or following periods of inactivity
  • Difficulty walking due to any of the above symptoms

Can Post Traumatic Arthritis Be Prevented?

Currently, there is no known treatment for preventing post traumatic arthritis once a sufficiently serious injury has occurred to a joint. There are, however, things that can be done to slow the progression and lessen the impact. Exercise is one of the key factors, along with maintaining body weight within a healthy range. Stress placed on joints can also play a part in the development of arthritis. Those individuals involved in occupations or activities that require more consistent pressure on joints, like those doing construction work, are more likely to show signs of early arthritis than those who sit at a desk all day.

While it is good to be aware of the risk factors, it is not always possible to change occupations. There may be other lifestyle choices that can help to lessen symptoms, however, such as switching from a high-impact activity like jogging or tennis to something kinder to your joints, like swimming or riding a bicycle. Anything that lessens the stress on the ankle joint can only help.

At Country Foot Care, we combine technology with years of foot care experience to help you understand both the condition that is giving you problems and the holistic treatment we recommend. Not only do we offer individualized treatment plans and personal attention in a state-of-the-art facility, but each office location includes a medical shoe store where you can find shoes designed for diabetics and shoes to accommodate for custom foot orthotics that can lessen the burden of joint pain caused by arthritis.

To schedule an appoint at any of our three Country Foot Care locations, Mineola, Patchogue or Williston Park, please use our online form by clicking here.

Posted in: Ankle Problems