Ankle and hindfoot arthritis treatment

What is it?

The hindfoot is made up of your heel bone and your ankle which are joined together by a joint, allowing your foot to move from side to side. Hindfoot arthritis is caused by degeneration or inflammation of the joint which damages cartilage. This causes the bone to rub and causes pain.

You may need treatment if you have the following symptoms:

  • Pain (usually made worse by walking)
  • Stiffness or reduced movement
  • Cracking or popping
  • Giving way due to looseness of ligaments or secondary to pain
  • Swelling

Hindfoot arthritis is diagnosed by X-ray and sometimes blood tests are used to investigate inflammation. CT and MRI scans may also be taken.

Diagnosis and treatment options

Your consultant will examine you and ask you to demonstrate certain movements to check how well your foot is working. You might need some additional tests, which will be fully discussed with you during your appointment. This could include:

  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

Treatments for hindfoot arthritis include:


Steroid injections can be used to help relieve swelling and pain caused by hindfoot arthritis. The medicine is injected into the affected joint or joints to provide temporary relief.

Hindfoot fusion

During surgery, your consultant will fuse the hindfoot joints together which removes the function of the joints below the ankle leaving them stiff. This helps to relieve severe pain from arthritis or correct a painful deformity.

The procedure is performed under either a spinal anaesthetic or general anaesthetic, which will depend upon your choice, your concurrent medical conditions and review by the consultant anaesthetist. It usually requires one or two nights stay in hospital.

Recovery is dependent upon the underlying problem being addressed, but often requires a period of around three months in a below knee plaster or surgical boot.

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