Osteoarthritis of the ankle usually occurs in ankles that have experienced trauma, infection, or injury. A smooth, slippery, fibrous connective tissue, called articular cartilage, acts as a protective cushion between bones. Arthritis develops as the cartilage begins to deteriorate or is lost. As the articular cartilage is lost, the joint space between the bones narrows. This is an early symptom of osteoarthritis of the ankle and is easily seen on X-rays.
As the disease progresses, the cartilage thins, becoming grooved and fragmented. The surrounding bones react by becoming thicker. They start to grow outward and form spurs. The synovium (a membrane that produces a thick fluid that helps nourish the cartilage and keep it slippery) becomes inflamed and thickened. It may produce extra fluid, which causes additional swelling.
As an alternative to surgery, fusion or replacement, Regenexx Procedures may help alleviate pain with a non-surgical injection procedure. Patients are often encouraged to walk the same day, and most experience little to no down time from the procedure.