Ankle Replacement Surgery
Ankle replacement surgery is an option for treating chronic pain and injury in the ankle joint.
The most common factor leading to ankle replacement surgery is arthritis. There are many types of arthritis, but all involve pain and inflammation in the joints. Three types of arthritis are most commonly associated with ankle replacement surgeries:
Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease): A condition in which the cartilage surrounding the bones of the ankle joint wears down, allowing the bones to rub against each other, resulting in pain, stiffness, and loss in range of motion. Osteoarthritis is most common in people aged 50 and older, but can occur in younger patients, too.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: A condition in which the the membrane surrounding the ankle joint becomes inflamed and thickened, causing damage to cartilage and leading to pain and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is very common.
Post-Traumatic Arthritis: This condition stems from trauma, or injury, to the ankle. Bone fractures or ligament tears in the ankle can lead to cartilage damage and inflammation associated with arthritis.
Are you a candidate for ankle replacement surgery?
Ankle replacement surgery is a viable option for many cases of chronic pain and lack of mobility in the ankle. It is essential to be evaluated by a qualified orthopedic doctor in order to make an informed decision, but some general signs that a ankle replacement could be an option include:
- Severe, chronic pain that impacts quality of life and inhibits everyday activities, like standing up, walking, and bending over
- Restlessness or loss of sleep due to pain or stiffness of the ankle
- Reduced range of motion or weakness of the ankle
- Deformity or swelling in the ankle that does not improve with time, rest, or treatment
- Lack of effectiveness of other treatment options, including medication and physical therapy
These symptoms may be improved by an ankle replacement, or they may be better addressed using medication, physical therapy, or another procedure - it is important to visit an orthopedic doctor for an individual assessment if you experience the above symptoms.
About the procedure
In a ankle replacement, the damaged bones and cartilage of the ankle joint are removed and replaced with artificial components. These components include a ball, a socket, and a plastic liner that fits between them and provides a smooth-gliding surface.
Ankle replacement surgery typically involves a hospital stay of at least one night. Your doctor and nurses will monitor your recovery and may administer antibiotics to prevent infections. You and your doctor will discuss options for pain management in the days and weeks immediately following the procedure.
Recovery from an ankle replacement is a process that lasts several months and calls for a well-planned rehabilitation program. This will likely involve physical therapy as well as at-home exercises.
Schedule a consultation
If you or a loved one are experiencing chronic pain and lack of mobility in the ankle, to the degree that it impacts quality of life, please schedule a consultation to speak with one of our orthopedic surgeons. The symptoms may or may not require an ankle replacement procedure, but the first step to recovery is evaluation by a doctor.