Total Ankle Replacement
Severe ankle arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and inflammation that can make it painful and difficult to walk. Fortunately for patients in the Cincinnati area, the joint replacement specialists at Beacon Orthopaedics have an excellent record when it comes to total ankle replacement.
What is Total Ankle Replacement Surgery?
Total ankle replacement, or ankle arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure designed to remove damaged parts of the ankle and replace them with prosthetic parts (made from plastic or metal). The replacement ankle moves and works just like a natural joint, greatly improving patients’ quality of life.
Why is Ankle Replacement Surgery Performed?
The most common reason for an ankle replacement procedure is to treat arthritis. Arthritis is a degenerative condition that causes inflammation, causing pain, stiffness, swelling and other symptoms that can make it difficult for a joint to function normally. In the case of the ankle joint, there are three main types of arthritis:
- Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and is a result of “wear and tear” on a joint. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage that cushions the ankle joint to gradually wear away, eventually causing bone to painfully rub against bone.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the tissues covering the joint. This leads to swelling, bone and cartilage damage, and possible damage to the ligaments and tendons.
- Posttraumatic Arthritis: Posttraumatic arthritis is a result of a past trauma or injury, such as a dislocation or fracture. This condition can cause the cartilage between the joints to degrade, sometimes even killing the cartilage cells.1
Preparing for Ankle Replacement
Prior to an ankle replacement procedure, patients may be directed to stop taking certain medications such as blood thinners. It is also ideal if patients who smoke quit in preparation for the procedure. Your team at Beacon Orthopaedics will give you detailed instructions about preparing for and recovering from ankle replacement surgery.
The Ankle Replacement Procedure
Ankle replacement surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia. In some cases, patients may need to stay overnight at the hospital. To begin the procedure, the orthopedic surgeon makes an incision to expose the ankle joint. Damaged bone and cartilage are removed, and the area is prepared for the replacement joint. The prosthetic ankle is inserted and checked for proper motion, then the foot and ankle are aligned before the incision is closed.
Recovery and Rehabilitation After Ankle Replacement
Following ankle replacement surgery, patients’ pain will be controlled by a nerve block. The leg will be protected by a splint for roughly one week, then a boot cast will be used for up to six weeks following the procedure. Initially after ankle replacement surgery, no weight should be put on the prosthetic joint so that the bones can heal to the implants. Gradually, patients begin to work with a physical therapist to regain strength and mobility, and a full recovery is usually achieved within six months.
Contact Beacon Orthopaedics
If you are suffering the painful and limiting effects of severe ankle arthritis or an ankle injury, the orthopedic surgeons at Beacon Orthopaedics can help alleviate your pain and get you back on your feet. To schedule a consultation with a joint replacement specialist, please contact us today.
1 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Foot and Ankle Arthritis. Available: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/arthritis-of-the-foot-and-ankle/. Accessed February 2, 2022.
2 Cleveland Clinic. Total Ankle Replacement. Available: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14595-total-ankle-replacement. Accessed February 2, 2022.