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Osteochondritis (stiff ankle)

Osteochondritis is a term used to describe damaged cartilage. This can occur in any joint, but the ankle joint is the most common joint affected in the foot and ankle. This cartilage damage can occur because of trauma, loss of blood flow to the cartilage, and metabolic abnormalities. Osteochondritis can be difficult to see on an x-ray and for that reason the diagnosis may be missed.

A common presentation would be a person who sustained an ankle sprain and continues to experience pain months to years after the injury. An MRI should then be done to look for any cartilage damage or defects.

Once cartilage has been damaged, you can not repair or replace it with normal joint cartilage. The cartilage that takes it place is not as shock absorbent as the original. There are many types of surgical procedures that can be used to stimulate growth of cartilage within a defect. Some involve minimal surgery with arthroscopy and others require removing small pieces of cartilage from the knee and placing it into the ankle joint.

If you are still experiencing pain after an ankle sprain and it has been over a month, it is in your best interest to be seen by a foot and ankle specialist to make sure you don't have any damage to cartilage and/or ligaments.

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