Are you suffering from ankle pain and discomfort? Arthritis could be one of the reasons why. While it’s important to consider other potential causes of your ankle pain before attributing it to arthritis, and arthritis can only be diagnosed by a medical doctor, here are some clues that arthritis may be contributing to your ankle pain.
Process of Elimination
Oftentimes ankle pain is the result of a sprain, which could come from twisting your ankle or stepping down at an awkward angle; or a sprain, which can be attributed to your body being tired or exhausted after an overly active day or workout. However, these types of ankle pain would normally be accompanied by swelling and pain to the touch, and usually resolve after a brief period of rest and self-care, such as using ice packs and elevating your leg.
But, ankle pain can also be caused by other medical issues. Some of these may include:
· Nerve problems, such as those caused by sciatica and tarsal tunnel syndrome.
· Cardiovascular diseases, such as arteriosclerosis, where arteries of the legs become narrowed or blocked
· Trauma or inflammation of cartilage (which cushion joints) or tendons (which join muscles to bones). These problems may include a rupture or strain of the Achilles tendon, the effects of running without proper training or shoes.
· An infection in the ankle joint, which can be caused by a variety of conditions.
If none of these conditions address your pain, you may, in fact, have osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, or another type of arthritis.
Types of Arthritis that Affects Ankles
There are more than 100 types of arthritis, many of which do affect the ankle joint. Here are the most common.
· Osteoarthritis, the “wear and tear” arthritis, can occur over time after years of activity cause the breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the joints. This causes the bones to rub against each other, resulting in stiffness, pain, and loss of range of motion.
· Rheumatoid arthritis is the chronic inflammatory disease in which the body’s immune system begins to attack the membrane that protects and lines the joints. Expect pain, swelling and joint damage.
· Lupus. Like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus is a chronic auto-immune disease that attacks healthy tissue and organs. Swollen ankles or ankle pain in those who have lupus may indicate the kidney has been affected by lupus.
· Gout. When excess uric acid builds up in the body, it starts to circulate in the bloodstream, depositing the crystallized build-up in the joints. Those who suffer from gout experience excruciating pain, usually in the form of pain and swelling in the big toe that also affects the ankles.
Symptoms of Arthritis in Your Ankle
When you have arthritis, your joints become stiffer and may lose function over time. With the ankle, in addition to pain and stiffness, you may feel as if there is grating or rubbing, or you may hear a crackling sound when you move your foot.
The features of your ankle pain sometimes point to a form of arthritis as the cause. Keep in mind these characteristics of arthritic ankle pain are not exclusive to the disease and may be caused by other factors. However, arthritis may be behind the source of your ankle pain when:
· The pain and discomfort increase as you put body weight or pressure in your ankle and foot.
· The pain becomes considerably worse after exercise or very physically tiring activities.
· You experience ankle pain and stiffness upon waking. This “morning stiffness” usually lingers for 30 minutes or less, and improves after activity when the joint has warmed up.
· The degree of pain is higher during the day or when you are most active on your daily routine, and considerably lower when you are at rest. In advanced arthritis you may also experience pain during the night.
Any pain or joint discomfort that lasts for more than a few days and prevents you from going through your daily routine, or limits your participation in sport activities, should be evaluated by a doctor or orthopedist specialist. It may be a sign of arthritis, another condition, or simply an injury that needs tending to.
Our team of physicians at Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence are experts in sport and knee injuries and can implement, monitor, and evaluate the most effective treatments. When surgery is warranted, our orthopedic surgeons utilize the least invasive techniques available. For outstanding orthopedic treatment, call our Colorado Springs office at (719) 623-1050.