Ankle Replacement for Arthritis

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“I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health.”- Voltaire

What is Ankle Replacement Surgery for Arthritis? 

All arthritis treatments are not the same! Depending on the extent of ankle joint degeneration,  minimally invasive intervention or even orthopaedic surgery may be warranted. If you are experiencing variable sensations on a daily basis - it may be time for a stabilizing treatment. Ankle replacement surgery may be the solution to your ankle pain. As a surgical option for the treatment of arthritis, consult with your orthopaedic surgeon in order to determine if this is the path for your healing. Ankle replacement surgery is an alternative therapy to ankle fusion. 

As a complex therapy, ankle replacement is often the last resort therapy if alternatives haven’t worked for a patient. During your consultation, your doctor will assess your medical history and determine if you’ll be a prime candidate for ankle replacement surgery. Distraction arthroplasty is also possible option in certain arthritic ankles. Since recovery can take up to twelve months after surgery, various factors will have to be decided on, before the decision is made and the acute treatments have proven ineffective.

Arthritis of the Ankle 

Also known as the tibiotalar joint, the ankle joint incurs cartilage loss through a variety of various root causes leading to arthritis. Ankle fusion therapies include fusing damaged ankle bones with a series of metal plates and screws. The intention is for the bones to actually heal into one. With the benefit of improved joint integrity, with a downside of limited mobility. Arthritis isn’t completely healed by ankle fusion, however, it is a therapy that is prevalent due to its effectiveness. No therapy is one hundred percent effective. Research and consultation will determine the best path forward. Orthopaedic surgeons favor ankle fusion in younger patients. With ankle fusion, physical activity can be resumed once the joint has healed. 

Ankle replacement, involves joint restoration via the removal of the joint internals, and replacing them with prosthetics. These are synthetic joints which are made of plastic and metal, as indicated in the image. The original joint was damaged, and replacement joint aims to restore the damaged portion of the joint. With joint replacement, there is increased mobility, but still has the ability to regenerate arthritic conditions. Ankle replacement surgery is often prescribed for patients over the age of sixty, who restrict their physical activity. 

What are the Post Surgery Treatments? 

If a replacement surgery is performed on a patient, the patient will be required to release weight from the treated leg. There will often be a protective splint on the leg. The patient will also be mobile via the use of crutches. During the healing process, there will be the incorporation of physical therapy exercises to ensure that joint mobility is properly restored. The joint has to fuse into the surrounding healing ankle joint. The body can either accept or reject the joint, so it will be important for the careful monitoring of the site to be facilitated via the various specialists who monitor the site. 

Your orthopaedic surgeon will ensure that your surgery and your treatment path go as planned. Have a detailed consultation with your specialist, if you feel that this will be the ideal path for you going forward. Your health is your wealth. 

Reference Articles: 

  1. Total Ankle Replacement Surgery for Arthritis: http://www.orthop.washington.edu/patient-care/articles/ankle/total-ankle-replacement-surgery-for-arthritis.html

  2. Considering Ankle Replacement Surgery: https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-q-and-a-considering-ankle-replacement-surgery/

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