Ankle replacement surgery is the replacement of a damaged ankle joint with an artificial implant. Dr. Zachary Flynn is a fellowship-trained foot and ankle surgeon in Phoenix who specializes in ankle replacement surgery.
When is Ankle Replacement Surgery Needed?
Severe ankle arthritis that has not responded to conservative treatment is the most common reason for an ankle replacement. Ankle arthritis can cause the following symptoms:
- Severe pain - Inflammation - Stiffness, which can lead to difficulty walking
The main types of ankle arthritis are:
- Osteoarthritis: Wear and tear arthritis that develops in older adults.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: System-wide autoimmune disease that affects the joints.
- Arthritis: Happens because of past injury of your joint, often due to an ankle fracture.
If arthritis is not yet severe enough to warrant an ankle replacement, these surgical options may be a possibility:
- Arthroscopic debridement of the ankle - Ankle fusion
What to Expect After Ankle Replacement Surgery
When you wake up, your leg will probably be immobilized and elevated. Follow-up X-rays may be needed to see how the surgery went. You will likely have pain right after your surgery. Pain medicines may help ease the pain, which should diminish over a few days, and eventually you should have less pain than before your surgery.
Following surgery, you will probably need to wear a splint for a couple of weeks. You might also need to use crutches for several weeks. It may be helpful to rest and elevate your leg for the first week or so after your surgery. You won’t be able to put your full weight on your foot for a few months.
It will be important to keep your follow-up appointments, so that your physician can monitor your progress. You may have your splint removed and replaced with a boot or a cast a couple of weeks after your surgery. This cast may come off several weeks after post-surgery. You may need physical therapy for a few months to help you regain your strength and range of motion. It may be several months before you can return to all your previous activities.