When Ankle Pain May Mean Arthritis
Many forms of arthritis and related conditions can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the ankles.
Some of these diseases include:
The most common form of arthritis, OA is a chronic condition caused by the breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. This breakdown causes the bones to rub together, causing stiffness, pain and loss of joint movement. While weight-bearing joints, such as knees and hips, are more commonly affected by, OA, the ankles can be affected too.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body’s immune system – which normally protects us from infection – mistakenly attacks joints. The result can be pain, swelling, inflammation and loss of function. In about 90 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis, the joints of the feet and ankles are often affected.
Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when excess uric acid builds up in the bloodstream and forms needle-shaped crystals. The sharp crystals lodge in tissues of the body, including the joints. For many people, the first symptom of gout is severe pain and swelling in the big toe. Future attacks may come and go affecting different joints, including the ankles. After years with the disease, lumps of uric acid, called tophi, may form beneath the skin around the ankles.
Calcium Pyrophosphate Dihydrate Crystal Deposition Disease (Pseudogout)
Pseudogout occurs when calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystals form within the joints. While this condition most commonly affects the knees, it can also affect the ankles.
Reactive arthritis is a form of arthritis that often occurs following an infection of the genital, urinary or gastrointestinal system. The knees, ankles and other joints of the feet often are the first to affected. Reactive arthritis also can cause inflammation of the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease, meaning the body's immune system creates antibodies that attack healthy tissues, and may include joints, skin, heart, lungs and kidney. Ankle swelling can be a sign of lupus. In some cases, the ankle can also turn blue from sensitivity to cold, a symptom of Raynaud’s phenomenon, that’s common in people with lupus.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA)
Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that usually include the skin disease psoriasis. The condition more commonly affects toes (dactylitis) or the back of the heel (enthesitis), but it may cause ankle pain.
Literally translated "hard skin," scleroderma is an umbrella term for disorders that cause an abnormal growth of the connective tissues that support the skin and internal organs. The first symptom for many patients with systemic scleroderma is Raynaud's phenomenon that can affect the feet. Thirty percent of people with scleroderma have the systemic version. In some cases, skin thickening over the joints, such as the ankle, can cause joint stiffness.
Juvenile arthritis is the term used to describe arthritis when it begins before age 16. There are several types of juvenile arthritis that can cause pain and swelling in the ankles.
The most common injuries that cause ankle pain include a sprain, a fracture or the inflammation of the Achilles tendon that runs from the calf to the heel bone (Achilles tendonitis).
Learn more about these conditions in our help center. Getting an accurate arthritis diagnosis will help to determine if you have type of arthritis so you can get the medical care you need. Discuss your symptoms with your primary care physician as soon as possible.
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