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The symptoms can develop months or even years after you were injured. They can get worse over time, but how fast or slowly varies.
You get pain and other problems because the cartilage in your joint thins or wears away.
Cartilage is the thick connective tissue at the end of bones. It protects them and allows them to move easily. If you don’t have enough, your bones rub against each other, causing pain.
Because cartilage in the ankle is thicker than in other joints of the body, it takes longer to wear down. That may partially explain why this type of osteoarthritis doesn’t happen as often as it does in other joints.
To diagnose your condition, your doctor will probably start by asking you questions such as:
- What are your symptoms?
- When did they start?
- Does your pain get worse when you’re walking or running?
- Is the pain constant or does it come and go?
- Have you had any injuries in the ankle such as sprains or a fracture?
Your doctor will examine your ankle for swelling and see how well it moves. They’ll also check to see if you have any pain during motion.
You will get an X-ray of your ankle. If it shows that the space between your bones is narrow, it could indicate cartilage loss has occurred. It can also spot a , a clue that you might have arthritis.
Occasionally doctors use other imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses powerful magnets and radio waves to make pictures of the inside of your joint. You might also be asked to get a CT scan, which uses powerful X-rays to make detailed images of the ankle.