What to Expect During and After Ankle Replacement Surgery

Ankle arthritis might not be as widespread or well-known as other types of arthritis, but it can be equally as painful and uncomfortable as hip, knee, and shoulder arthritis. As with other types of arthritis, ankle arthritis is more common in people over 50 and can develop slowly over time as a result of wear and tear on the joints, or develop more suddenly because of a traumatic injury. Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause ankle arthritis.

Symptoms include pain, stiffness, inflammation, and difficulty walking. The first line of treatment is usually lifestyle modifications and non-invasive treatment options to help ease the pain and stiffness. These options include rest, ice, NSAIDs, losing weight to reduce stress on your joints, and physical therapy.

If these non-invasive treatments don’t help reduce pain and stiffness and walking and daily activities continue to a problem, surgery is an option.

What is ankle replacement surgery?

The ankle joint, also called the tibiotalar joint, is where your shinbone, or tibia, rests on top of a bone of your foot, the talus. As with other types of arthritis, over time, the smooth cartilage on the surface of the bones wears away. This can result in pain, inflammation, and swelling of your joint. 

Ankle replacement surgery is a procedure to replace the damaged ankle joint with artificial parts made of plastic and metal. These artificial body parts help restore normal ankle function so that you can return to a pain-free active lifestyle. 

What happens during ankle replacement therapy?

If non-invasive treatment options don’t provide the relief you need from ankle arthritis, a total ankle replacement may be a good option for you. During the procedure, the board-certified podiatrists at Lake Ridge & Stafford Foot & Ankle Centers, put you under general or local anesthesia to ensure your comfort during the procedure.

Once the anesthesia takes effect and you feel no pain, the surgeon makes an incision near your ankle to remove the damaged parts and replace them with new artificial ones. Once the parts are aligned and secured, the surgeon closes the incision and places a splint to hold your ankle in place.

Ankle replacement surgery recovery

After a night or two in the hospital, you’ll be able to leave with a boot or cast that needs to stay on for several weeks to help keep your ankle in place while it heals. Soon after, you’ll start physical therapy that will slowly help you return to weight-bearing activities. 

Within four to six weeks, you can return to most normal activities. During this time, you’ll work on a range of motion exercises so that you can return to your normal mobility and flexibility. Within four to six months, you should expect a full recovery and return to all the sports and activities you love. 

If your ankle arthritis is causing pain and preventing you from doing things you enjoy, call for an appointment with one of our board-certified foot and ankle surgeons at Lake Ridge & Stafford Foot and Ankle Centers. You can also request an appointment online through this website. 

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