While nothing beats what Mother Nature provides you, there can come a time when an important joint, such as your ankle, becomes more of a liability than an asset. At Virginia Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates, foot surgeons Melissa L. Gulosh, DPM, and Joseph R. Disabato, DPM, have answered the call with total ankle replacement surgery. If you want to regain pain-free movement in your ankle, call one of the two locations in Charlottesville or Culpeper, Virginia, or request an appointment using the online form.
Total Ankle Replacement Q & A
Why would I need total ankle replacement surgery?
Ankle replacement surgery is never the first option if you’re having problems with your ankle, but if you’ve exhausted every avenue and you’re still left with pain and limited mobility, total ankle replacement surgery may be your best recourse.
There are several reasons why you may need total ankle replacement surgery, with arthritis leading the charge. If you’re in end-stage osteoarthritis, or if you suffer from post-traumatic or rheumatoid arthritis, ankle replacement surgery is an attractive treatment option that restores pain-free mobility.
What is total ankle replacement surgery?
Ankle replacement surgery began in Europe during the 1970s. Since that time, the technology has been refined with new implant designs, materials, and instrumentation, which better accommodate the rigorous demands of ankle joint function.
In previous years, an ankle arthrodesis or fusion (fusing your leg bones to your ankle bone), has been the sole treatment option. While effective, ankle joint arthrodesis restricts your ankle motion, causing a limp, and transfers stress loads to adjacent joints, increasing the risk of joint damage. You also run the risk of nonunion — when your ankle joint fails to unite.
With total ankle joint replacement, you benefit with improved ankle joint motion, which allows for a more normal gait cycle. A total ankle replacement also decreases adjacent joint stress loads and reduces or eliminates your ankle pain.
How is a total ankle replacement performed?
If you and your doctor at Virginia Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates have decided that a total ankle replacement is the best course of action, you choose the best implant for your unique situation. The foot surgeons only use FDA-approved implants, and there are plenty of choices to meet every need.
In most cases, the ankle replacement procedure takes approximately 1½ to 2 hours. They use general or spinal anesthesia for your comfort, and you should count on 1-2 days in the hospital following your surgery.
For the following six weeks after your ankle replacement surgery, your surgeon places you in a lower leg immobilizer. Three to four weeks after your surgery, your doctor initiates physical therapy and limited weight bearing to help you achieve maximum motion in your new ankle joint.
To determine whether you’re a candidate for ankle joint replacement surgery, please contact Virginia Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates at one of their two locations for a consultation. Or use the online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.