Ankle replacement surgery is the replacement of a damaged ankle joint with an artificial implant.
What is it?
Ankle replacement surgery, also called total ankle arthroplasty, is a procedure most commonly used to treat arthritis in the ankle.
The ankle joint (tibiotalar joint) is where your shinbone (tibia) rests on top of a bone of your foot, the talus.
Arthritis can affect this joint as well as other joints in the foot. 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 this damaged joint to eliminate this pain and swelling. Typically, the procedure takes place under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will make an incision in your ankle to access the affected joint. Next, your surgeon will remove the damaged parts of your tibia and talus bones. Your surgeon will attach artificial metal joints to the remaining bone surfaces, with a piece of plastic inserted between them.
whY MIGHT I NEED ANKLE REPLACMENT SURGERY?
Ankle replacement surgery may make sense for you if you have severe arthritis in your ankle. This can cause symptoms like severe pain, inflammation, and stiffness, which can lead to difficulty walking. The main types of ankle arthritis are:
- Osteoarthritis. This is “wear and tear” arthritis that develops in older adults.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. This is a system-wide autoimmune disease that affects the joints.
- Arthritis. This can happen because of a past injury of your joints.
If you have mild or moderate arthritis, your healthcare provider will probably recommend other treatments, like pain medicines, special shoe and foot inserts, physical therapy, or corticosteroid injections. If you still have severe symptoms that interfere with your daily activities, your healthcare provider may recommend ankle replacement or another surgical procedure.
If your arthritis is not yet severe, arthroscopic debridement might be a better choice. Ankle fusion is another choice for people with severe arthritis of their ankle. Each of these choices has its own risks and benefits.
Board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon, Norman E. Waldrop, III MD performs ankle replacements at Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center.
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