Total Ankle ArthroplastyTotal ankle arthroplasty uses a prosthetic joint to relieve pain caused by arthritis. After so many years of use, the cartilage in the ankle can eventually deteriorate and cause the joint to become arthritic. If the pain becomes severe enough to impact your daily life and conservative treatment methods just won’t ease the pain, your doctor may recommend a total ankle arthroplasty (or ankle replacement surgery). The prosthetic joint is designed to give you pain relief, restore some of your range of motion and last for at least 10 years before needing revision surgery.
Total ankle arthroplasty is used to treat various forms of arthritis:
- Regular arthritis stemming from prior injury
- Osteoarthritis, which affects older adults after years of wear and tear
- Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that can cause chronic inflammation in joints throughout the body
In this procedure, a surgeon will remove the damaged parts of your shinbone and talus, affix metal replacements to the ends of those bones and attach plastic between the metal joints to allow the prosthetic ankle to move more smoothly.
What to Expect
You will have general anesthesia for your total ankle arthroplasty and the procedure will take several hours to complete. This is an inpatient procedure, and you may be kept in the hospital for a few days for monitoring and to keep your leg elevated.
Ankle replacement surgery, like all other surgical procedures, does carry some risks, including:
- Nerve damage
- Bone misalignment
- Loosening of the prosthetic joint
- Blood clots or excessive bleeding
You should experience pain relief within a few days, and can expect to wear a splint or cast and use crutches for several weeks. You may be able to return to normal activities after a few months of physical therapy, although high-stress activity like running and jumping is not recommended. Many patients experience 10 or more years of smooth movement with their artificial ankle joint.