Though ankle injuries are painful when they first occur, the long term damage that is caused can be even more detrimental. Ankles that have suffered an injury are seven times more likely to become arthritic that ones that have seen no trauma. Injuries can very in severity and still have the same long term affects. From inconspicuous reoccurring ankle sprains to more seemingly detrimental ankle fractures or broken bones, the damage that is caused is irreversible. Ankle cartilage is quite strong and can usually withstand a life time of movement but when the cartilage gets damaged its cells are unable to be repaired. Cartilage is made to glide smoothly to create movement but when it becomes worn or frayed the movement is not fluid. This leads to swelling, inflammation, and pain in the ankle joints. If proper treatment is not attained after the injury, post-traumatic ankle arthritis could very well occur in the future.
A study taken from 1991-2004 at the University of Iowa, studying 639 patients with grade 3 or 4 arthritis concluded that ankle injury is the most common cause of ankle arthritis. Trauma was the primary cause of arthritis in 445 patients out of the 639 patients surveyed. That is about 70%. The other 30% was caused by rheumatoid disease and primary osteoarthritis. Symptoms of ankle arthritis include: pain or tenderness, stiffness or reduced motion, swelling, difficulty walking, bone spurs, and instability. No matter what stage of arthritis is present, or if arthritis is just a possible threat in the future, professional care should be sought. Podiatrists everywhere have many surgical and non-surgical options to help cope with the pain, prevent arthritis from over running everyday life, and catch arthritis before it become a problem.