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Quality of Life With Ankle Arthritis

Orthopedic surgeons from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics offer the first report on the impact of ankle osteoarthritis (OA) on overall health. They surveyed a large group of adults with ankle OA. Some had degenerative OA associated with aging. This type of arthritis is also called primary OA. Others had posttraumatic OA from a previous injury.

A commonly used measurement tool called the SF-36 was used. The SF-36 asks a series of questions to assess mental and physical well-being. In this study, the OA group was compared to a control group. The control group were healthy adults the same age and gender.

The authors found that patients with posttraumatic OA had more severe pain than patients with primary OA. The posttraumatic group were younger and more likely to have ankle pain earlier in life lasting longer than the primary OA patients.

For all patients with ankle OA, their condition had a major effect on their sense of physical well-being. In fact, the scores on the physical portion of the survey showed that patients with ankle OA were equal to or worse than patients with end-stage kidney disease or congestive heart failure.

Ankle pain was the greatest in patients who had other musculoskeletal problems. These other problems were not related to the foot or ankle. The authors conclude that overall musculoskeletal condition impacts patients' sense of well-being and reduces their quality of life significantly.

Surgeons treating patients with ankle OA are advised to watch for a greater physical decline and ankle pain when other musculoskeletal problems are present.

Charles L. Saltzman, MD, et al. Impact of Comorbitities on the Measurement of Health in Patients with Ankle Osteoarthritis. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. November 2006. Vol. 88-A. No. 11. Pp. 2366-2372.

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