Ankle arthritis is a significant issue that people have. This condition is not as common as some other issues, but it makes up for the pain that comes from it. If you have the right kind, it bothers you twice during your walking stride -once when you put your foot on the ground and once when you are about to lift it off the ground.

Some causes need to be considered. Normal wear and tear can cause issues in later life, but injuries can accentuate this.

A pronated (rolling in) foot and injuries that force a foot to roll in more can lead to increased pressure on the joint and cartilage.

How can shoes help with ankle arthritis?

  1. Shoes with a cushioned sole. Shock absorption can decrease the jarring on the ankle. Additional cushioning directly at the heel can help reduce stress at heel contact. A Canadian Certified Pedorthist can add extra cushioning to the heel when recommended.
  2. A heel rocker is a curved area at the back of the heel. When you walk, this decreases the shock when you put your heel down first. The sole will roll the foot down to reduce pain in the affected area. If your shoe does not have this heel rocker already, a Canadian Certified Pedorthist can add this.
  3. A toe rocker is a curved area at the front of the shoe. To help decrease the ankle’s pressure and movement when pain is present when pushing off the back leg.

These rockers and cushioned soles are great for pain relief but be aware that you still feel stable in the shoe! Instability can increase the risk of falling.

How can orthotics help with ankle arthritis?

Orthotics are devices that help control abnormal motion in the foot and thus reduce pain. Flat feet/pronated feet or high arches can hurt when a person walks on them. When the foot rolls in or out excessively, the ankle can move abnormally, creating pain. Providing arch support to all the arches of the foot can help alleviate pain. Orthotics help support the arches to keep them in a more normal position, help make more space in the joint, and reduce any bone-on-bone contact. A Pedorthist may also recommend an orthopedic shoe complimenting the orthotics for additional support.

Another way orthotics can help with ankle arthritis is by helping with shock absorption. Orthotics made of shock-absorbing material help reduce the shock delivered to the foot in walking.


You can use bracing for joint support, especially in athletic activities. Volleyball, for example, can jar the foot significantly. Additional support can help to reduce further injuries. Ankle braces can also help to provide compression and warm the area. It can help, especially if there is swelling due to arthritis.


Control of weight is never a popular topic, but decreasing the amount of weight can reduce the force through the ankle.

Canes and Physical Therapy

Proper use of canes can help take the stress off the affected joints. Physical therapy is another way to help reduce pain in the joint. It helps to reduce inflammation in the affected joint and makes activities better tolerated.

Pain Medicine and Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

To reduce pain and swelling in the joints, Doctors or pharmacists can best tell you about these and any issues you may have with sensitivities, allergies, and your condition.

If you have ankle arthritis, your local Canadian Certified Pedorthist may be able to help you manage your pain through proper shoes and orthotics.


Written by Jim Pattison, C. Ped (C)