Ankle arthritis

Ankle arthritis is where the cartilage covering the ends of the bones gradually gets thinner, while the bone underneath thickens. Although the condition is usually caused by osteoarthritis, it can also be caused by damage from other rheumatic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. It can also be caused by previous injury. Ankle arthritis is usually painful and can lead to deformity of the joint. You may need surgery if your symptoms are severe.

There are three surgical options:

Ankle fusion
This involves removing the damaged ankle joint and fusing the talus bone to the tibia to form a stiff, but pain-free, ankle.

Triple fusion
The surgical fusion of three joints in the foot, using (typically) a combination of plates, screws or staples. It takes 12–14 weeks for the fusion to be complete. The joint cannot be moved after surgery.

Ankle replacement
This involves removing the worn-out ends of the tibia and talus bones and replacing them with artificial ends made from plastic or metal. Unlike an ankle fusion, a replacement allows the patient to move the joint after surgery.