Total Ankle Replacement

Who Needs a Total Ankle Replacement?

If you are experiencing painful arthritis in the ankle, and nonsurgical treatments have not relieved your discomfort or limited mobility, total ankle replacement may be an effective treatment method. Arthritis can occur in any joint in the body, especially joints that have been injured or damaged. Since ankle injuries are extremely common, arthritis in the ankle often results.

What Can You Expect from the Procedure?

During a total ankle replacement, your surgeon will remove the diseased cartilage and bone and replace your joint with artificial joint parts (prosthetics) made of metal and plastic. This is done under general anesthesia in an inpatient setting.

How Do You Recover?

Following a total ankle replacement, patients typically stay in the hospital overnight. During this time, your leg will be elevated, and your ankle will remain immobilized in a splint. Once you are able to use crutches or a walker, you can return home.

In general, weight-bearing activity can begin two to three weeks after surgery. Physical therapy is recommended to strengthen the ankle, and the prescribed exercises will improve your range of motion. Full recovery may take anywhere from six months to a year, after which patients can safely return to light recreational activity and low-impact sports.

How Long Does a Total Ankle Replacement Last?

Like all joint replacements, an ankle replacement can wear out over time. Current evidence suggests that total ankle replacements can last between 10 to 15 years, at which time a revision procedure may be required. Fortunately, newer implant designs are more durable, and advancements in technology and technique make future revisions easier.

An Expert Weighs In

“Many patients don’t even realize that the option of total ankle arthroplasty, or total ankle replacement, exists. For decades, we only had one option for ankle arthritis, and that was an ankle fusion. Though that’s a successful procedure as far as pain relief is concerned, it eliminates any remaining motion of the ankle. A total ankle replacement allows patients to maintain natural motion and protects the surrounding joints in the foot from further arthritis. This is especially important for patients who love outdoor activities, which involve navigating slopes, stairs, and hills. With a total ankle replacement, you can really change a patient’s life, allowing them to increase their functional activity without pain in every step.”

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