Ankle Replacement

What is an Ankle Replacement?
In ankle replacement (also called ankle arthroplasty), the damaged ankle joint is replaced with an artificial implant (prosthesis).

Although not as common as total hip or knee joint replacement, advances in implant design have made ankle replacement a feasible option for many people.

In addition to providing pain relief from arthritis, ankle replacements offer patients better mobility and movement compared to fusion. By allowing motion at the formerly arthritic joint, less stress is transferred to the adjacent joints. Less stress results in reduced occurrence of adjacent joint arthritis.

Ankle replacement is most often recommended for patients with:

Advanced arthritis of the ankle
Destroyed ankle joint surfaces
An ankle condition that interferes with daily activities

As in any joint replacement surgery, the ankle implant may loosen over the years, or fail. If the implant failure is severe, revision surgery may be necessary.

Treatment
Ankle replacement surgery generally lasts around two hours, but can differ depending on the individual case.

In ankle replacement surgery, the surgeon will replace your damaged joint with a new, artificial joint. Artificial joints are often made of metal, plastic, or a combination of the two. There are two types of joints —- cemented and uncemented. A cemented joint replacement uses bone cement to hold the new joint to the bone, and is often performed in older people who are not as active. An uncemented joint is more appropriate for younger, more active patients who have strong, healthy bones.

Recovery Time
Foot and ankle surgery can be painful. Pain relievers in the hospital and for a time period after being released from the hospital may help.

It is important to keep your foot elevated above the level of your heart for one to two weeks following surgery.

Your doctor may recommend physical therapy for several months, to help you regain strength in your foot or ankle and to restore range of motion. Ordinary daily activities usually can be resumed in three to four months. You may need special shoes or braces.

In most cases, surgery relieves pain and makes it easier to perform daily activities. The full recovery time for ankle replacement can take four to nine months, depending on the severity of your condition before surgery, and the complexity of your procedure.