If you suffer from persistent ankle pain or feel as if a lack of mobility in your ankle prevents you from participating in your daily activities, an ankle replacement may be an option to alleviate pain and restore your mobility. A total ankle replacement is a surgical procedure that replaces damaged portions of the ankle with prosthetic replacements. Here are a few things you need to know about a total ankle replacement.
1. An Ankle Replacement is a Relatively New Treatment Alternative
Even though the ankle replacement procedure has been around for decades, it's only in recent years that it's become more common as a viable procedure. This is due to advances in how the procedure is performed and the prosthetics used for the ankle replacement.
Previous techniques and ankle prosthetics left patients who undergo an ankle replacement with limited mobility and lasting discomfort from the procedure. There used to be a relatively high rate of failure (when compared to similar replacement procedures). However, the current generation of ankle prostheses has largely eliminated complications related to the procedure.
Though doctors do recommend that you pursue less invasive treatment alternatives, such as taking anti-inflammatories, altering your activities, changing your footwear, and regular use of an ankle brace, they now consider an ankle replacement as a viable treatment option.
2. An Ankle Replacement is Often Used to Manage Arthritis
A total ankle replacement is primarily used to alleviate pain and discomfort associated with arthritis of the ankle. Over time, arthritis causes the cartilage in your ankle to degrade. Cartilage is necessary for your ankle joint to comfortably bend.
Once the cartilage is no longer there, you'll notice that your ankle is stiff and painful when you try to bend it. To counteract this loss of cartilage, your surgeon will remove any remaining cartilage and the affected portions of the ankle. They will then be replaced with prosthetic parts.
Occasionally, an ankle replacement might be used in patients who are suffering from cartilage degradation due to normal wear and tear of the ankle.
3. There's Usually a Short Hospital Stay After Surgery
The procedure to replace your ankle usually only takes a few hours. However, you'll need to stay in the hospital a few days for observation and to ensure that pain from the procedure is under control.
To be able to go home, you'll need to be off of IV pain medications and demonstrate to your doctor that you're comfortable getting around with crutches.