Ankle Joint Replacement

Total ankle replacement (also called ankle arthroplasty) is a surgical option for patients with arthritis of the ankle. This operation can relieve pain and maintain motion in the arthritic ankle joint and is an alternative to arthrodesis (ankle fusion) which can relieve pain but eliminates motion in the joint. Although it does not have the same long-term track record of hip or knee replacement, shorter-term studies on ankle replacement look very promising.

Characteristics of arthritis of the ankle

The ankle joint is made up of the two bones of the lower leg and the first bone in the foot called the talus. It is often called the tibiotalar joint.

This joint can lose its cartilage covering either through injury, infection or wear and tear. X-rays will show a narrowed joint with other changes the physician will evaluate.

Types of surgery recommended

Often treatment of ankle arthritis only requires restricting the patient's activities to things that are not painful and making certain that the shoe is comfortable. In general, a shoe that laces up above the ankle and has a cushioned heel will be more protective than other types of shoes.

Bracing of the ankle is another option. This can be provided by a device known as an ankle lacer. It fits inside the shoe and laces up like an old-fashioned boot. A third option for more significant pain is an AFO which stands for Ankle Foot Orthosis. This is a plastic brace that goes along the back of the leg and the underside of the foot and also fits inside the shoe. This requires a slightly larger than normal shoe size.



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