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The ankle is the joint where the bones of the leg, the tibia and the fibula, meet the talus, which is the bone above the heel bone. Normally, the surfaces of our joints are covered with cartilage, which is invisible to the x-ray beam, so there is the appearance on x-ray of a space between the bones. There is not actually a space there, but it looks that way since the cartilage can't be seen. Sometimes, the cartilage of the ankle can wear away. This condition can occur due to multiple reasons, but the most common are trauma and inflammatory problems, like rheumatoid arthritis. This loss of cartilage means that instead of the joint moving smoothly and painlessly, the surface becomes rough, with the bone ends beginning to grind together. The result is a decreased range of motion, and and increase of pain and disability.
In cases of ankle arthritis, the treatment options include: