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Ankle Sprains Can Mean Arthritis

Ankle sprains are common but often minor sports injuries that are easily forgotten. However, damage to the ankle joint can show up years later and cause osteoarthritis, leaving a person with chronic pain and instability. Today’s specialized care of ankle injuries can help prevent and treat osteoarthritis.

Ankle sprains may predispose a patient to osteoarthritis, according to a study presented at the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society’s annual meeting. The study found that 18 percent of participants who had suffered and been treated for an ankle sprain were suffering from arthritis and experiencing joint instability. Another finding: The average time between the ankle sprain and the development of arthritis was 21 years.

Osteoarthritis is more common in hips and knees, but its symptoms are the same in the ankle. Patients experience pain, inflammation, cartilage damage, and immobility, which can hinder a person’s lifestyle at work, home, and in recreational activities.

Previous ankle sprain sufferers who experience post-traumatic pain should visit an orthopaedic physician who specializes in foot and ankle care. Some prevention and treatment options and tips include:

  • Weight loss can reduce stress on the ankle
  • Anti-inflammatory medicine provides temporary relief
  • Inserts and braces help stabilize and take stress off the ankle
  • Cortisone or steroid injections help reduce inflammation and relieve pain
  • Physical therapy helps relieve stress and pain and strengthen muscles, tendons, and ligaments
  • Surgery, including arthroscopy, fusion, and joint replacement is more advanced

June 2008

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