Modifications, Bracing, Medication
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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