Ankle arthritis can be painful and limiting. For a while, you may be able to manage it with pain relievers and supportive therapies, such as physical therapy and stretching. Eventually, however, you may reach the point where an ankle replacement really is your best option. How do you know that you've reached this point? Well, look out for the following signs.

1. You've increased your dose of NSAIDs, and you're still in pain.

If the normal dose of NSAID pain relievers is just not cutting it anymore, you can talk to your doctor about taking a higher dose. (Do this only with your doctor's permission. For some people, higher doses are just not safe.) If you've done this and your pain is still not under control, then it's probably time to consider an ankle replacement. Taking large doses of NSAIDs long-term is not good for your stomach or liver, and taking heavier-duty pain relievers, like opiates, has its own set of very worrisome risks.

2. You're unable to complete daily tasks.

Maybe your ankle arthritis caused you to cut back on recreational activities like playing tennis or bicycling. This is one thing, as these activities are entertainment-based and you can find other ways to entertain yourself. It's quite another thing to be forced to avoid necessary daily tasks because of your arthritis. Maybe you struggle to even walk to the car, or perhaps you cannot stand long enough to do the dishes. You need to be able to care for yourself and live your life, and an ankle replacement can give you back that freedom.

3. Your ankle pain is interfering with your work.

In some jobs, you can make modifications to make the work easier on your ankle without reducing your productivity. In other positions, this is difficult or impossible. If your ankle pain has started to interfere with your ability to work, then this is a sign you're ready to have an ankle replacement.

4. Physical therapy and other therapies have stopped helping.

Do you return home from physical therapy feeling just as stiff as before? Maybe massage used to help, but it's not working anymore. When these supportive therapies stop making a difference, it is silly to keep spending time and money on them. You'll get more mileage and relief from an ankle replacement.

Many adults with ankle arthritis eventually need an ankle replacement. Talk to a joint replacement surgery service to learn more about this option.