Arthritis of the Ankle


Most ankle arthritis is as a result of "wear and tear" (or osteoarthritis). Other forms of ankle arthritis exist such as inflammatory arthritis, an example of which would be rheumatoid arthritis.  The inside of a normal ankle joint is lined completely by smooth cartilage.  The arthritic ankle loses this smooth cartilage lining which normally allows for low friction and pain free weight bearing.  Once the cartilage lining is lost, the underlying bone is exposed.  This is not a comfortable surface for weight bearing and pain is generated from inside the joint.  Along with losing the smooth cartilage lining in ankle arthritis, there are other secondary changes which occur in the joint such as; development of painful, inflamed tissue known as synovitis.  As the cartilage is being "worn away" in ankle arthritis, loose flaps of cartilage can become partially detached from the arthritic joint and can also produce pain and sometimes a sensation of locking from the arthritic ankle joint.


  • Localized pain at the ankle joint
  • Pain and swelling after prolonged weigh bearing or exercise
  • Deformity can also be an occurrence
  • Inward tilt (varus) or outward tilt (valgus) which occurs at the ankle joint,


Causes and Risk Factors

  • Ankle arthritis is commonly the result of either a direct injury to the joint such as an ankle fracture or the result of a longstanding and symptomatic ankle instability
  • Occasionally, it may occur secondary to chronic and recurrent inflammation such as with rheumatoid arthritis, gout or the recurrent bleeding of haemophilia.
  • In rare cases arthritis may be secondary to a neurological condition such as polio or hereditary sensory and motor neuropathy.
  • Being overweight can increase the chances of developing arthritis and instability of the ankle.


Ankle Arthritis Complications

  • Ankle fusion or joint replacement surgery
  • Pain always being present even with reduced activity
  • When ankle arthritis is asymmetrical it can result in other misaligned joints such as the knee or hip.
  • Increased instability and loss of balance when walking


  • Not carrying excess weight
  • Reduction of heavy impact on the joint
  • Proper footwear with a stiff-enough sole


Things to do at home
  • Losing any excess weight is one of the most important ways  to alleviate pain in ankle arthritis
  • Having a shoe with a stiff sole that is slightly curved and a supportive ankle structure that sits just above the ankle
  • Occasionally certain anti-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications

How we treat Arthritis of the Ankle

We use the following approaches to treat Arthritis of the Ankle.

  • ASTR® Tools: Our doctors use a variety of ASTR® tools to release scar tissue and myofascial restriction, which can decrease mobility and flexibility.
  • Special exercise program to decrease pain, strengthen the muscles, stabilize and help the patient to return to normal function and activities.
  • Special instructions on how to speed up the recovery time.
  • Cold Laser Therapy: Tissue inflammation is common with ankle   arthritis. Cold laser is used in order to decrease inflammation that causes pressure on the affected area.
  •  PEMF treatment which utilizes a form of electromagnetic therapy that stimulates cellular repair and recharges the body’s cells to optimize its performance.  This treatment is especially recommended for ankle arthritis.
  • Patient avoided hip surgery.

  • Patient avoided back surgery.

  • This newborn came in unable to move his neck from the side position. He suffered from torticollis, severe neck and back spasms. After just 1 ASTR treatment, he had complete range of motion.

  • Patient came in unable to move his neck from the side position. After 3 ASTR treatments, he regained full range of motion.

  • This young gymnast came in unable to do the splits. After just 1 ASTR treatment, she had full range of motion.


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