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Ankle Arthritis Provider Treatments

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How and when to see a provider

You should consider seeing a healthcare provider for your ankle arthritis if after about 4 weeks of at-home care your symptoms have not improved or the pain and swelling are severe. A doctor can confirm that you have arthritis and check for other problems. They can prescribe anti-inflammatory pain medication (NSAIDs) and give you a referral for physical therapy or acupuncture.

Getting diagnosed for ankle arthritis

Your healthcare provider can diagnose ankle arthritis with a physical exam and taking X-rays. Or they may refer you to a foot and ankle specialist (usually an orthopedic surgeon or podiatrist) who can confirm that you have arthritis and determine how severe it is. Your doctor may also ask you to do a gait test to measure your stride and analyze the way you walk.

What to expect from your visit

  • You may need a prescription NSAID like meloxicam (Mobic) or celecoxib (Celebrex) if OTC pain relievers aren’t helping enough.
  • Cortisone injections in the ankle can help relieve pain and inflammation if medications don’t seem to be working or you can’t take NSAIDs for medical reasons.
  • Your doctor may suggest physical therapy. A personalized physical therapy treatment plan helps reduce symptoms, strengthen the muscles supporting your ankle, and keeps the ankle joint from getting stiff. Therapy includes strength and flexibility exercises and cold and hot therapy.
  • An alternative therapy, acupuncture, may be recommended. Acupuncture uses thin needles to stimulate specific points on the body and has been shown to help arthritis.

How to treat severe ankle arthritis

Though it’s not usual for ankle arthritis, surgery may be recommended if your arthritis doesn’t improve after several months of treating it or your pain severely limits your everyday activities.

Procedures include an ankle replacement—the arthritic parts of the joint are removed and replaced with metal and plastic parts—and ankle fusion, which uses plates and screws to align the joint.

Prescription ankle arthritis medications

  • Meloxicam (Mobic)
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • Diclofenac (Voltaren)
  • Nabumetone (Relafen)
  • Cortisone injections

Types of ankle arthritis doctors

  • A primary care physician or other general healthcare provider can treat mild to moderate symptoms.
  • Foot and ankle specialists, such as orthopedic surgeons and podiatrists, may be more knowledgeable about treatment options.
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