Many years ago, I injured my right ankle [in 2008, the doctor said it had probably been cracked or broken] and not had it examined. I had no problems with it, until I reached my forties.
During the years from 1998 until 2008, my ankle slowly became less flexible, there was some swelling on the outer ankle bone, and it became increasingly difficult to walk with the foot straight, in a normal position. Just before surgery, I was walking with the right foot at a nearly 30 degree angle, outwards.
There was some pain, usually after a day at work, walking on concrete floors, or when I moved the foot "the wrong way".
My general practitioner prescribed the arthritis medication, Arthrotec, and I used Celadrin cream at night, and took glucosamine tablets.
In the 2008 examination, the orthopaedic specialist said that the ankle had fused itself, with bone growing over the joint. This accounted for the misshapen ankle bone and awkward walking position.
After consultation with the orthopaedic surgeon, who specializes in ankle surgery, I decided to have the surgery done.
The specialist's report in March 2008 states that, "A history of bilateral ankle injuries....no inflammatory arthropathy or risk factors for avascular necrosis. He presents what appears to be bilateral talar collapse. On the right side he has severe collapse with a varus tilt in the tibial talar joint and arthrosis of the subtalar joint. He is in hindfoot varus position, with compensatory hindfoot valgus in the subtalar joint. He has exhausted conservative management."
Preoperative diagnosis: "Severe right ankle arthrosis and subtalar arthrosis with collapsed talar body."
There are many websites and mailing lists out there, some of which have some rather misleading information about arthrodesis.
Always consult your own doctor about anything you find on the web.