Ankle replacement surgery serves to treat patients with severe arthritis of the ankle by resurfacing the bones at the ankle joint. Removing damaged tissue allows for pain relief and improved range of motion. Use of an artificial joint also prevents future damage. Recent research has shown improved outcomes for ankle replacements as a viable solution for ankle arthritis, and many patients at Beacon Orthopaedics have taken advantage of this option with our team.
What is ankle arthritis?
The ankle joint is a complex structure that includes three bones: the tibia (the major lower leg bone), the fibula (the smaller lower leg bone), and the talus. These bones interact to allow for motion at the ankle joint. Ankle arthritis is a condition in which the cartilage of the ankle joint wears out and breaks down.
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Patients experience pain, swelling, loss of motion, and disability. When ankle arthritis occurs, it often causes patients to adjust their gait which can result in soreness or stiffness in the knees, hips, or lower back.
What can be done to treat my ankle arthritis without surgery?
In many instances, nonsurgical treatments like physical therapy and injections provide pain relief. Other options include bracing and supporting the ankle to minimize painful motion. Anti-inflammatory medicines are helpful for acute symptoms. Speaking with an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist will help you understand which course of treatment is best for you.
If nonsurgical treatment fails, what can be expected with surgery?
Surgical options depend on the severity of the pain, amount of cartilage damage, the patient’s medical history, and the patient’s desired activities. Early arthritis may improve from the removal of isolated problems such as bone spurs or loose bodies (floating bone or cartilage fragments in the joint).
The majority of severe ankle arthritis is treated by one of two methods: ankle fusion or ankle replacement. This is a complicated surgery that has proven outcomes when performed by an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle conditions. The risks and benefits of each treatment can be complicated and are better suited for a full discussion with our team after a full clinical and radiographic evaluation.
What happens after surgery and how long will this affect my walking?
Ankle replacement surgery can be performed as an outpatient procedure. A boot is used to restrict movement and provide support for about 6 weeks after surgery. There is a period of no weight bearing initially after surgery to allow the bones to heal to the implants. Physical therapy is also an important part of recovery. Although the entire process can take months, most patients report that their pain improves quickly after surgery.
For more information or a personal evaluation, please visit our website. Appointments can be made with Dr. Adam G. Miller by calling (513)-354-3700 or booking online here. If you are not following Dr. Miller on social media, you can do so on Facebook or Twitter for: updates and comments on cutting edge treatments, discussion of various injuries, and sport/athlete issues.