Ankle replacement surgery replaces your ankle joint with an artificial implant. It’s typically reserved for severe cases of arthritis that interfere with standard functions when other options, such as medication, physical therapy, shoe or foot inserts, or other surgical procedures such as ankle debridement or ankle fusion have all failed to provide relief.
Many people who undergo this type of procedure suffer from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, although people who have suffered a past joint injury and subsequently presented with severe arthritic symptoms have also received this surgery.
If you’re a candidate for this type of procedure, you may be recommended for either total or partial ankle replacement. Total ankle replacement involves fully replacing the joint with prosthetic parts, while partial replacement removes only the damaged areas of the ankle, preserving more of the natural joint.
Ankle replacement, also known as ankle arthroplasty, begins with the application of anesthetic or a nerve block to the ankle. An incision is made and the affected bone and cartilage is removed. Prosthetic pieces are then inserted to replace the removed tissue and the ankle’s new range of motion is checked. Additional repairs are then made to ensure your foot and ankle properly align. Recovery from this procedure usually takes between six to 12 months.
While this procedure does maintain a generally natural range of motion for the ankle, it’s best to maintain a healthy weight and avoid high-impact physical activities to prevent damage to the prosthetic parts. If these parts do become overly damaged over time, you may require an additional surgery.
While ankle replacement is an effective procedure that offers benefits over other options, it’s also a last resort for end-stage arthritic pain and may not be right for everyone.
Ankle fusion, another common surgery, involves permanently joining the ankle bones together. While this does provide relief and negate the need for physical therapy, it also reduces your range of motion to a greater degree than a replacement and can ultimately lead to the spread of arthritic symptoms to other surrounding joints.
Ankle debridement is typically reserved for people with mild to moderate arthritis, often due to the growth of bone spurs or cartilage fragments causing pain in the ankle. The recovery time of this procedure varies, but it can effectively relieve pain and preserve range of motion for patients in the early stages of arthritis.
The best way to determine the right procedure for relieving your chronic pain is to work with a Queens ankle replacement surgery specialist to weigh the risks and benefits in your case. Contact us to schedule an appointment now.