Ankle > Arthritis > Treatments

   Shoe Modifications, Bracing, Medication

Treatment Introduction

Though osteoarthritis in your ankle cannot be cured, conservative treatment can slow the progression of the disease. Arthritic pain may progress in a few months, or it may happen over years. The goal of treatment is to give you time to remain active on your feet for as long as possible. To relieve pain, your physician may prescribe a combination of the following non-surgical treatments:

   Shoe modification – Your physician can add a rocker bottom to the sole of your shoe. It looks like a roll bar in the middle of the bottom of your shoe. The rocker bottom lets your foot roll from heel to toe, which limits motion in your ankle. You usually begin by modifying one pair of shoes. If it relieves your pain, you can have your physician modify your other shoes.

   Ankle foot orthosis (AFO) – This stiff brace wraps around your calf muscle and cups under your foot. It limits bending in your ankle and helps keep some of your body weight from transferring to your ankle. It is designed to fit the shape of your lower leg and foot and is worn inside your shoes.

   Anti-inflammatory medication – Your physician may prescribe over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin, or stronger, prescription-strength medication. Anti-inflammatories do not alter the course of arthritis, but they can mask pain and decrease inflammation in your joint.

   Heat treatments are available, including heat lamps, hot showers, heating pads, heat ointments, and whirlpool or bath treatments. Many people with arthritis alleviate pain with heat treatment before activities and ice afterwards. Heat treatment usually is left to your physical therapist’s discretion.

Depending on the extent of your arthritis, these treatments may provide pain relief for years. However, they also may be only a short-term answer for patients who have more severe cartilage damage. You usually can tell within a few days how effectively the non-surgical treatments soothe your arthritic pain. If these treatments work, you generally continue to wear your modified shoes or AFO until the pain returns. It may be five years or it may be only a few months until your pain returns and you need to visit your physician to discuss other options.

Shoe Modifications, Bracing, Medication
   Treatment Introduction
Ankle Fusion
Total Ankle Replacement

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