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Ankle Replacement Surgery: What You Need to Know



Sometimes, ankle replacement surgery can be a viablethe only treatment option for severe ankle injury or end-stage arthritis. In this surgery, your ankle surgeon will replace the damaged ankle joint with an artificial implant to eliminate pain and swelling and increase mobility. The artificial implant is mostly made up of metal components and a piece of plastic in between.

This guide to ankle replacement surgery provides the information you need to decide whether the procedure is good for you.

How to Know If You Need an Ankle Replacement Surgery

Most ankle surgeons recommend ankle replacement for the following reasons.

Advanced Arthritis

While ankle arthritis can occur after an ankle injury or certain other systemic conditions, unlike the knee and hip, age related arthritis of the ankle is rare. Your healthcare provider will recommend other treatment methods like physical therapy, ankle braces and corticosteroid injections when the arthritis is mild, but they can recommend ankle replacement or ankle fusion if your arthritis starts interfering with your daily activities.

Chronic Ankle Pain

If you experience chronic ankle pain resulting from an injury, your ankle surgeon can recommend ankle replacement if other treatment methods fail.

Ankle Fracture

Your medical practitioner can also recommend ankle replacement if you have ankle fractures that lead to joint cartilage degeneration.

Weak Ankle

A weak ankle can affect your ankle and leg functioning and eventually your mobility if not treated. This condition mainly results from chronic ankle instability from a trauma to the ankle whereby ligament and tendon function may have been compromised.  Luckily, you can regain your mobility after a successful ankle reconstruction which often includes ankle replacement.

Ankle Instability

Your ankle can lose stability if you repeatedly sprain it when playing sports. Multiple sprains can also lead to chronic ankle instability (CIA), which may eventually require ankle replacement surgery.

What the Risks of Ankle Replacement Surgery Are

While ankle replacement surgery is successful in most cases, the procedure has some risks:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Blood clot
  • Nerve damage
  • Bone spur/cyst formation
  • Continued pain
  • Loosening of the artificial components

Your risk of experiencing the above complications depends on various factors, including age and health status. For example, you can have healing challenges if you have diabetes. Therefore, consult with your doctor to identify your level of risk.

How to Prepare for Your Ankle Replacement Surgery

If you have a scheduled ankle replacement surgery, prepare in advance to prevent complications. Ask your health practitioner about the medications you should quit and tell them about your overall health status and the recreational drugs you take, including smoking.

Also, have someone to take care of you and rearrange your home for easy access after the surgery, as you will use a knee scooter and possibly crutches for a few weeks.

What to Expect After the Surgery

After the ankle surgery, your healthcare provider will ensure that your recovery goes well and you have regained your mobility as soon as possible. Your medical team will use X-rays to track your healing progress.

You may experience some pain after the surgery, but it should reduce after a few days. Other changes you should expect include the need to use a knee scooter for several weeks after the surgery and physical therapy to improve foot function.  Generally, the healing process may take several months.

Despite the numerous treatments for severe ankle issues like injuries and ankle arthritis, ankle replacement surgery has proven effective in eliminating arthritis pain, swelling and any ankle problems affecting your mobility.  At Ankle & Foot Clinic of Everett, we stay updated on the latest treatments to fully meet the needs of patients suffering from foot and ankle issues. Make an appointment today to start your healing journey.

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