Diagnosis of Arthritis

Ankle arthritis is diagnosed through a combination of reviewing the symptoms, physical examination and x-rays or other imaging tests.

During your visit, your doctor may ask you a series of questions1 such as:

  • When did the pain start? Is it worse at night? Does it get worse when you walk or run? Is it continuous or does it come and go?
  • Have you ever had an injury to your foot or ankle? What kind of injury? When did it occur? How was it treated?
  • Is the pain in both feet or just one? Where is the pain centered?
  • How active is your lifestyle? What kinds of shoes do you normally wear? Are you taking any medications?

As part of your exam, your doctor may also suggest a gait analysis. This detailed study of how you walk identifies the positions of the bones in your leg and foot as you move, measures your stride and tests the strength of your ankles and feet.

In addition to a physical exam, your doctor may order x-rays or special imaging tests such as a bone scan, computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance image (MRI) to determine the extent of damage to the joint.

If rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is suspected, blood tests will show whether you are anemic or have an antibody called the rheumatoid factor, which is often present with RA.


  1. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons