Although our ankles bear as much body weight as our knees, they are much less likely to develop osteoarthritis – 9 times less likely, in fact! This is in part because ankle cartilage is denser and tougher than knee cartilage. However, just like any joint, it is possible to develop ankle osteoarthritis as you age, especially if you have had previous ankle injuries, surgeries, are overweight, or have other medical conditions that affect joint health. Although there are many different types of procedures that can be done to aid ankle problems, one of the most comprehensive is the total ankle replacement.
If you develop ankle osteoarthritis, common symptoms include:
— swelling, warmth, and redness
— pain and tenderness when pressure is applied to the joint
— locking or buckling when you walk
If you are experiencing severe pain or trouble in your ankles, you may be a candidate for a total ankle replacement, or ankle arthroplasty. This procedure, similar to a hip or knee replacement, removes damaged bone and cartilage and replaces that with metal compartments.
The surgical cut for an ankle replacement is usually at the front of the ankle. The surgeon gently move tendons and nerves around in order to reach the bone. The surgeon then removes the damaged bone or cartilage and replace the damaged tibia and talus bones by gluing or cementing the metal parts designed to your ankle. Once the ankle is stabilized, he will sew up the incision.
For approximately 6 weeks, you will wear a cast or brace while your ankle heals.
A successful procedure will largely decrease or rid you of ankle pain and allow you to move your ankle up and down. After an arthroplasty, we recommend you avoid high-impact sports or activities, but you will most likely be able to perform lower impact activities, including swimming, hiking, and cycling after you have recovered.
You will likely need to be more aware of the kinds of shoes you wear. Some patients change their shoes several times a day in order to adjust the stress distribution on their ankle.
Here at MCJR, Dr. Richard Jackson and Dr. Steven Herbst (of Central Indiana Orthopedics) treat ankles and perform total ankle replacement surgeries. If you have concerns about your ankle pain, call our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jackson or Dr. Herbst.