Arthritis of the ankle can cause serious and irreversible damage if left untreated or if not properly controlled. If arthritis has caused enough wear and tear on the ankle joint that it can no longer function properly, then our foot and ankle surgeons at Virginia Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates may recommend ankle joint replacement surgery. Of course, we understand that undergoing surgery is a big decision. You may be wondering if replacement surgery is the right choice for you.
Reasons to Consider an Ankle Replacement
Chances are good that you’re coming to our foot and ankle team because you are dealing with mobility issues and other ankle problems that are impacting your routine. Some of the main reasons our foot and ankle surgeons recommend ankle joint replacement include:
- Advanced osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic pain
- Limited mobility
- Reduced range of motion
- Instability and weakness of the ankle
Due to the more aggressive nature of the surgery, ankle joint replacement surgery is not recommended lightly. Our team will only recommend this procedure if the patient has tried all other treatment options, and nothing has worked. When you come into our practice, we will evaluate your situation and health to determine if surgery may be the best option for you.
Ankle joint replacement is most often recommended for older individuals over the age of 60 who are within a healthy weight and aren’t athletes or aren’t intensely active.
The Ankle Joint Replacement Process
During this procedure, our surgeons will remove the bones and cartilage that make up the ankle joint and replace them with an artificial joint. The two most common types of ankle joint procedures are ankle fusion and ankle replacement. While an ankle fusion is most often used, an ankle joint replacement can provide better ankle mobility, which is why it’s still a great option for many of our patients.
The healing process is just as important as the surgery itself because during this time the bone will fuse together with the artificial joint so that it can work properly. For several weeks you will need to use crutches and will not be able to put weight on the foot. After a few weeks, patients typically replace their crutches with a protective boot that they will need to wear for several months. The recovery process from ankle joint replacement surgery is extensive and can take up to one year.