Skip to main content

5 Signs Your Ankle Pain May Be Arthritis

5 Signs Your Ankle Pain May Be Arthritis

May is Arthritis Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to take stock of your aches and pains and determine if any are caused by this common debilitating disease.

At Monroe Foot & Ankle Care, podiatric physician Dr. Elliott Perel and his team treat arthritis of the feet and ankles in their patients in Monroe Township, New Jersey. As it’s difficult (and not usually prudent) to self-diagnose, the team wants to discuss five signs that the ankle pain you feel may be due to arthritis and when you should seek out help.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis comes from the Greek words meaning “joint” and “inflammation.” It’s not a single disease, but rather an umbrella term for more than 100 types of joint-related inflammation. Arthritis affects people of all ages, races, and genders, and it’s the leading cause of disability in the United States.

Common symptoms of arthritis include joint swelling, pain, stiffness, and diminished range of motion. The symptoms can vary from mild to debilitating, and they may come and go. Severe arthritis, especially if untreated, can result in chronic pain, with great difficulty performing daily activities such as walking or climbing the stairs.

Arthritis symptoms can also worsen over time and lead to permanent joint changes. Some are visible, such as swollen and crooked finger joints, but most often the damage can only be seen on X-rays.

The most prevalent types of arthritis

While there are many types of arthritis, there are two types that account for most of the cases. Osteoarthritis (OA) is by far the most common, affecting about 1 in 3 older adults. It can damage any joint, but it mainly develops in those that endure a lifetime’s worth of wear- and -tear, such as the hands, spine, hips, ankles, and knees.

OA is most prevalent among the older population, but that doesn’t mean it’s anormal part of aging. You can take preventive measures to ensure it doesn’t take hold. Some are staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting inflammation-causing foods such as (e.g. red meat and sugar).

OA was once thought to destroy the joint’s cartilage, the protective cushion on the ends of the joint’s bones. However, new research has changed our understanding of the condition.

We now know that OA affects the entire joint, not just the cartilage. Bones in the joints weaken, the connective tissue holding the joint together deteriorates, and the joint’s lining becomes damaged by inflammation.

The second-most common type is inflammatory arthritis, of which rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the best known. Psoriatic arthritis (PsA), axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA), gout, and juvenile arthritis are other, less common types.

RA is an autoimmune condition — your immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s own tissues, including the joints. Errant signals or a faulty gene leads the immune cells to believe your tissues are actually a foreign substance or disease-causing pathogen. They can target a specific body area, or their effect can become systemic, damaging the eyes, skin, heart, and other major organs. 

Most doctors agree that an environmental factor — a pathogen, stress, smoking — can trigger inflammatory arthritis in people who are genetically predisposed to the condition. Recent research has also recognized that the gut microbe plays a critical role in inflammatory diseases like RA and PsA.  

5 signs your ankle pain may be arthritis

Ankle pain can stem from many causes, from a sprained tendon to a strained muscle to a broken bone. Here are five signs that your pain may come from arthritis:

  1. Tenderness when touching the joint
  2. Pain when you move the ankle
  3. Trouble moving, walking, or putting weight on your foot
  4. Joint stiffness, warmth, or swelling
  5. Increased pain and swelling after you rest, such as sitting or sleeping

If you experience any of these, it’s time to  come into the office for an evaluation.

Is your ankle sore and stiff but the pain came on gradually? It’s possible you have an arthritic joint. To learn more, and to get an accurate diagnosis, give Monroe Foot & Ankle Care a call today at 732-978-9569, or schedule your consultation online with Dr. Perel.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Foot Pain That Worsens With Rest: 5 Possible Causes

It may seem a bit topsy-turvy if you’ve developed foot pain and it’s worse at night when you’re resting instead of during the day when you’re walking, but we have five examples of conditions in which just that occurs. Learn all about them here.

What Diabetics Need to Know About Foot Care

If you’re a diabetic, you may not know that your feet need special treatment to ensure they don’t get damaged, infected, or, worse, amputated. Here’s what you need to know about in-office and at-home foot care.