Cartilage Damage

Any joint in your foot and ankle region could be affected by Arthritis. In fact, the most commonly affected is the ankle joint. There are various types of arthritis, including Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Post-injury arthritis.

Arthritis in the ankle joint may affect the entire joint surface evenly or only a part of the joint surface could be damaged. Localized joint damage generally occurs to the talus bone, the lower bone of the ankle joint. This condition is known as osteochondral lesion of the talus or osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). A major symptom of arthritis in the ankle joint is pain and inflammation around the ankle.


  • Oral medications, such as anti-inflammatory medications.
  • An exercise program focusing on non-impact exercises such as bicycling and swimming for strengthening the muscles around the foot and ankle and for maintaining motion in the joints.
  • Physical therapy and appropriate exercises
  • Avoiding painful activities such as running, vigorous hiking etc
  • Cortisone injection to relieve the pain and swelling.
  • Complete immobilization of the foot and ankle in a brace or cast

Surgical Treatment

An arthroscopy of the ankle focuses on debridement of the lesion and stimulating healing of the lesion, which generally comes in the form of scar tissue mixed with cartilage. Post-operative recovery often involves 4-6 weeks of protected weight bearing that enables healing of the lesion. Ankle arthroscopy is highly successful for smaller lesions. Another type of treatment that is recommended involves replacement of the injured cartilage with donor cartilage or cartilage taken from another part of the patient’s body, particularly the knee. In this case, post-operative recovery takes at least two to three months of non-weight bearing in a cast to enable the graft to heal into the surrounding bone. Yet another latest form of treatment involves harvesting of cartilage cells from the patient, developing them in a lab for a certain period of time and then re-implanting them into the ankle lesion.