Pain. Stiffness. Swelling. The symptoms of ankle arthritis can interfere with mobility and put a real cramp on your lifestyle. But you shouldn’t suffer in silence; there are many pain management and treatment options available to you.
Any treatments for ankle arthritis, either at home or with your doctor, are focused on decreasing inflammation and preventing further damage to the ankle joint. Be sure to consult your doctor about any major changes in your lifestyle. Teton Foot and Ankle is here to help, but there are also steps you can take at home to minimize pain and stiffness.
A regimen of comfortable, joint-friendly exercise can help alleviate symptoms and prevent further regression of ankle arthritis. Weight loss can decrease pressure on your joints, and strengthening the muscles in your body helps with supporting your painful joints.
Swimming, biking, and walking are great examples of ankle-friendly exercise. The key to an exercise regimen with ankle arthritis is to start slowly and to stick to exercise types that are low-impact and safe for you. The CDC website has a comprehensive guide on arthritis and exercise that you can refer to for further detail.
Nutrition can be an integral part of treating ankle arthritis at home. A healthy diet including whole foods, ample fruits and vegetables, and minimal fast food or sweets can improve your symptoms, as well as boost your energy. Even small changes in diet can help. Try adding a handful of berries and nuts to your daily snacking, or swap out fries for a side salad.
In addition, maintaining a lower body weight puts less stress on your ankles, which can minimize pain. A well-balanced, plant-heavy diet is a win/win for improving your outlook with ankle arthritis. If you’re looking for specific guidance on diet, the Arthritis Foundation has nutrition resources available, and as always you can consult your doctor for more direction as well.
Hot and Cold Treatments
A heating pad can relax your ankle joint and help alleviate stiffness. Many arthritis sufferers report stiffness in the morning; a heating pad could help make mornings a bit easier and more comfortable. Ice packs or other cold treatments can decrease inflammation in the ankle joints and also help with the pain. Using one or both of these treatments at home can be a helpful part of your at-home ankle arthritis treatment.
Using the above lifestyle improvements and remedies, there are a lot of actions you can take to help treat your ankle arthritis. But if you need further treatment, that’s where Teton Foot and Ankle comes in. There are a few treatments that your doctor may prescribe, either alone or together, to work with you and improve your arthritis.
Many different types of medicine can be used to help sufferers of arthritis that target different aspects of the condition. Your doctor may prescribe any of the following medications to assist with your symptoms:
- NSAID: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Advil, Motrin, and Aleve are common examples of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines. NSAIDs can also come in the form of creams or gels that can be applied directly to the ankle joint to improve pain.
- Counter-irritant: These are creams containing either menthol or capsaicin as the active ingredient and are used to decrease pain in the applied areas.
- Steroids: Steroids can treat ankle arthritis by decreasing inflammation and can slow the progression of damage to the ankle. Steroids can be prescribed in the form of shots your doctor applies at the ankle joint, or as a topical cream to the area.
- DMARDs: Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. These are used specifically for rheumatoid arthritis and can slow the damage and deterioration of the ankle joint. Your doctor will be able to diagnose whether your pain is due to rheumatoid arthritis and whether this type of medication may be appropriate for you.
Changing to a more supportive or comfortable shoe, in addition to improved padding added to the shoe, can make a huge difference in the comfort of your ankle. Your doctor may also suggest strapping your ankle to provide stability and control pain. These can help you stay mobile and stick to your exercise goals.
Under the supervision of a physical therapist, you can strengthen and exercise your ankles in a way that will improve your range of motion and strengthen the muscles that support your ankle joint. This could be done in addition to the at-home exercise mentioned above to contribute to an active, healthy lifestyle.
This option is often considered either when the earlier-listed treatments are not fully successful, or when there is significant joint damage or bone spurs at the ankles. Your doctor will tell you which type of surgery may be right for you, but some of the most common surgical interventions for arthritis include:
- Joint repair. In the case of bone spurs or other bone damage, the surfaces of the ankle joint can be smoothed or otherwise repaired or realigned to improve pain and mobility. This is called arthroscopy.
- Joint fusion. This procedure is common for smaller joints such as the ankle. The surgery accomplishes what it says; it has two ends of bones in the joint heal together into one unit.
- Joint replacement. While this is a common surgical option for arthritis, it is less common for the ankle and more often found in large joints such as the hip.
As detailed above, there are many options for treatment and potential repair of the ankle joint for sufferers of ankle arthritis. If you have ankle arthritis, don’t delay in taking action to improve your symptoms and your outlook for future use of the joint. There is no reason to suffer from ankle pain, stiffness, and swelling without taking action. Consider the at-home remedies listed above, and reach out to Teton Foot & Ankle Center for further help in treatment and intervention for your ankle arthritis. Contact us today!