Osteoarthritis of the ankle joint: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

With increasing age, the risk of developing diseases of the spine and joints increases. This is due to degenerative and destructive changes in the body. One of the most common diseases is osteoarthritis of the ankle joint.

Osteoarthritis of the ankle – what is it?

Ankle osteoarthritis is a chronic disease and cannot be completely cured. According to statistics, 10% of people suffer from this dystrophic disorder. People over 40 are particularly susceptible to this. The disease can lead to disability. Therefore, it must be treated promptly and competently.

Ankle osteoarthritis diagram

The ankle joint consists of the fibula, talus and tibia, two ankles and articular ligaments. Osteoarthritis causes inflammation and destruction of the joint cartilage. Bone tissue becomes damaged and deformed as the pathology progresses.

ICD 10 code

ICD stands for International Classification of Diseases. In such a document, each disease is assigned a specific code. This code consists of letters and numbers and is indicated on the sick leave certificate when the diagnosis is made. Thanks to him, a doctor in any country will understand what the patient is suffering from and where the pathological focus is localized.

The diagnosis of osteoarthritis is presented in a block with 5 headings and several subheadings. Osteoarthritis of the ankle is included in category M19. This section is divided into 5 subsections. The character after the period indicates the etiology. So 0 - these are genetically determined degenerative changes, 1 - post-traumatic changes, 2 - dystrophic changes against the background of endocrine, vascular or inflammatory pathology, 8 - these are other specified causes, 9 - a disease of unknown cause. For example, code is M19. 1 about osteoarthritis of the ankle joint as a result of an injury.


Pathology develops for various reasons. The triggering factors for the onset of the disease in adults are:

  • Increased stress on the joint. Doctors often observe degenerative changes in cartilage and bone tissue in obese patients and professional athletes (football players, bodybuilders, runners and dancers).
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Ankle injury.
  • Wear uncomfortable shoes and walk in heels.

In children, pathology develops for the following reasons:

  • Thyrotoxicosis.
  • Tissue dysplasia.
  • Injury.
  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Fracture.
  • Inflammation of the joints.
  • Dislocation.


The following manifestations are typical for ankle arthrosis:

  • Pain. It appears after staying in one position. When a person tries to stand up and lean on their leg, they experience stabbing (aching) pain and stiffness of movement. After a few steps the symptoms disappear. Pain occurs during and after physical activity.
  • Clicking, crunching in the ankle when walking.
  • Restriction of movement.
  • Swelling under the ankles.
  • Hypotrophy, weakness of the ligamentous apparatus.
  • Deformation of the joint (typical of an advanced disease).
Joint pain due to osteoarthritis


There are different degrees of osteoarthritis. Many years pass from the first signs of degenerative joint changes to loss of mobility. If you start therapy on time, there is a chance of stopping the progression of the disease. The success of treatment depends on the stage at which the pathology was detected.

Degrees of osteoarthritis of the ankle joint:

  • First. The degenerative process has just begun to develop and does not cause much discomfort in humans. The only symptoms are temporary morning stiffness in the legs, fatigue and mild pain. A crunching sound is made when the foot is flexed and extended. No pathological changes are visible on the x-ray. The prognosis for drug treatment is favorable.
  • Second. The symptoms of the disease intensify. Morning stiffness doesn't go away for about an hour. Pain occurs at the beginning of walking. After walking just 1 km, you feel very tired in your legs. When the ankle moves, a crunching sound is made. X-rays show osteophytes, the convergence of bone ends. Surgical treatment is indicated.
  • Third. The pain syndrome occurs not only during movement, but also at rest. Without narcotics, a person cannot work or rest normally. The patient is unable to move independently. The x-ray shows cracks, flattening of the articular surfaces, osteophytes and subluxations. Treatment is surgical and medical.
  • Fourth. The manifestations of the disease are mild. The pain disappears. But the stiffness of movement does not allow a person to walk. The cartilage in the fourth stage is completely destroyed. The x-ray shows the healing of the joint space.


When making a diagnosis, the doctor determines the degree of the disease and notes any exacerbation. Laboratory and hardware technologies are used for this:

  • Blood test (detailed).
  • Rheumatism tests.
  • Ultrasonic.
  • CT.
  • CRP test.
  • Radiography.
  • MRI.
Ankle x-ray


Therapy should be comprehensive and include taking medications, using physiotherapeutic methods and performing therapeutic physical exercises.

The patient is prescribed the following medications:

  • Anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drugs.
  • Chondroprotectors.
  • Painkiller.
  • Corticosteroid hormones.
Medication for osteoarthritis

Joint mobility is restored through manual therapy and procedures using a special device. Physiotherapy accelerates regeneration and stimulates blood circulation in the affected joint. Electrical stimulation, laser therapy and ultrasound are effective. If the dystrophic changes are pronounced, endoprosthetics is performed.


You can prevent ankle arthrosis by observing the following rules:

  • Keep weight within normal limits.
  • Strengthen the spine with special exercises.
  • Avoid injuries.
  • Correct congenital anomalies of joint structure.
  • Stop smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages.
  • Treat endocrine and vascular disorders in a timely manner.
  • Get regular preventive examinations if you have a genetic predisposition to the disease.