Foot and Ankle

Ankle Arthritis

Ankle Arthritis Causes & Treatments

A possible result of years of wear and tear on the joint is the chronic stiffness, pain, inflammation and even instability known as ankle osteoarthritis. Often, if left untreated, ankle arthritis can be so excruciating that walking even short distances can become unbearable.

Post-Traumatic Arthritis

The most common type of ankle arthritis is called post-traumatic arthritis. This type of arthritis is associated with early-life ankle fractures and mild to severe ankle sprains that flare up years later. Patients suffering from ankle osteoarthritis typically have had a loss of joint cartilage over time that may not be associated with severe ankle injuries. Rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions can also affect the joint.

Symptoms of Ankle Arthritis include:

  • Ankle or foot pain during activities or while resting
  • Ankle or foot pain that keeps you awake at night
  • Swelling, stiffness and/or limited range of motion in the ankle


No matter what the cause, patients suffering from ankle osteoarthritis typically have severe loss of joint cartilage over time. Importantly, as with any type of arthritis, seeking treatment as early as possible will help you maintain your joint function and stay healthy and active.

Conservative Approach

For those suffering from ankle arthritis, our foot and ankle experts at Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists offer a variety of treatment methods designed to reduce pain, improve function and prevent further joint damage, including steroid injections, prescriptions, and physical therapy. Sometimes, conservative treatments do not provide enough pain relief, and surgical options may need to be explored.

Surgical Approach

Fusing the Joint

The long-standing surgical treatment for ankle arthritis involves surgically fusing the joint to limit mobility and reduce pain and inflammation while preventing continued joint degeneration and providing stability. Known as ankle arthrodesis, this fusion procedure was once the only option for severe ankle arthritis. However, with advances in technology and growing understanding, that’s no longer the case.

Although ankle fusion provides long-term stabilization of the ankle joint and restores some function, it doesn’t provide the range of motion that all patients desire. At Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists, we strive to ensure that our patients have the option of choosing the best surgical treatment available to meet their specific goals. This is why we offer total ankle replacement as an alternative to ankle fusion to treat ankle arthritis and other severe ankle conditions and injuries.

Total Ankle Replacement

Total ankle replacement is a newer procedure that involves the replacement of damaged ankle joint tissue with artificial components to form a new joint. This enables the ankle to function more like a healthy joint and does not restrict movement as ankle fusion does. As a new option for patients suffering from ankle arthritis, total ankle replacement provides several benefits over other surgical ankle treatment methods, including quicker recovery times, full mobility and range of motion following surgery, and outpatient surgery capabilities. 

Compared to ankle fusion, total ankle replacement allows patients the mobility of up and down motion, so they can continue to enjoy their favorite activities and have fewer limits on their lifestyles. However, both procedures offer pain relief and increased function for those who are living with the limits of ankle arthritis.

Next Steps

Not all treatment options will provide the best outcomes for all patients, and suspected ankle arthritis should be assessed by a foot and ankle specialist.

Our foot and ankle experts at Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists have extensive training and experience with foot and ankle injuries and conditions and will focus on each patient’s specific problem and work with the patient to provide the best solution.

Why choose Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists?

Our fellowship-trained foot and ankle doctors at Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists completed additional training, specifically in the foot and ankle, and are recognized leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of ankle injuries and conditions. With this advanced training, our foot and ankle doctors, Dr. Padrta and Dr. Shirzad, are recognized leaders in the industry and have the experience and expertise to assess, diagnose, and treat your ankle injury or condition individually to your needs.

See a Specialist

If you’re experiencing ankle pain, you don’t have to keep living with it. To contact our foot and ankle specialists, please request an appointment online, or call 888-660-2663.

Make an Appointment

Appointment Resources

Once you have scheduled your appointment with one of our ankle doctors, please use the link below to obtain our new patient forms and browse through our tips and preparation suggestions for your appointment. 

Preparing for My Appointment & New Patient Forms

“I had arthritis in the proximal joint to the large toe in my right foot. Dr. Padrta first did a cheilectomy as I refused to let him fuse the joint. That surgery did not give me enough relief from my pain. Then a little over one year later, I had a fusion of the joint. I was sure that my basic active life of doing a lot of walking and some hiking would be gone. Well, I was wrong. WOW!!! Oh my gosh. If I wasn't inhibited, Dr. Patrta would be covered with kisses and hugs. I am elated with the results. I am once again back to a normal person. It is like a miracle. NO PAIN!!!! And I am out and about. I love to travel and have no qualms about it now. I get these urges to just take off and do my own thing like hiking, etc. I am back to being a kid again. I couldn't be happier. Thank you, thank you, thank you Dr. Patrta.” — Connie V.

“My foot had been hurting badly for several months when I finally saw Dr. Padrta. I was told I had arthritis in the joint and that the only real fix was to fuse the bones. Since I had already had 2 knee replacements, having another major surgery was not on my list of things I wanted to do. I went home and did research on my own and had a list of questions a mile long. The next week I went to see him and again he explained to me what was wrong and what needed to be done and then smiled and said As soon as I said surgery, your eyes glazed over and you never heard another word I said". Needless to say I had the surgery performed and spent 10 weeks in a cast. The pain is gone from my foot and ankle and I am able to walk normally again. Thank you to Dr. Padrta for being patient enough to let it sink into my head that he really could make everything feel better.” — Susan B.