Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Ankle FAQ

Question:

My doctor tells me I have a pretty good chance of developing arthritis in my right ankle because of a previous severe ankle sprain. Is there any way to prevent this from happening?

Answer:

Studies show the number of adults with sports injuries is on the rise. Along with it is an increase in ankle arthritis years later. More than 70 percent of ankle arthritis is caused by previous trauma, especially bone fractures and ligament tears.

Many of these ankles are unstable with abnormal motion and uneven shear forces across the joint. The change in biomechanics from these factors can lead to cartilage damage and eventual osteoarthritis (OA).

Steps to prevention are unproven at this time. Surgery to repair the damage doesn't necessarily prevent the development of OA later. Physical therapy and special exercises to restore normal motion and motor control may help but studies to prove this have not been done.

Some researchers suggest that proper nutrition is the key to cartilage repair. A well-known sports expert (Luke Bucci, PhD) has written a book on this topic (Sports Injuries through Nutrition and Supplements) that may be of some help. More studies are needed to answer your question completely.

Victor Valderrabano, MD, et al. Ligamentous Posttraumatic Ankle Osteoarthritis. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. April 2006. Vol. 34. No. 4. Pp. 612-620.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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