Ankles are awesome. For most New Yorkers, they are one of the most vital parts of our bodies, and if you are on your feet a lot, you will quickly notice how true that statement really is. I have devoted much of my adult life to the study and improvement of ankles and individuals who have sprains, strains, breaks, or other injuries to the area. However, I certainly understand that others do not commit as much time to learning about the ankle as I do. Here are a few common questions about ankle replacements that I hear in my clinic, as well as common answers. I firmly believe that there is no such thing as a dumb question, and I am always happy to sit down with patients and discuss ankle issues as well as treatments, so don’t hesitate to reach out with additional queries.
What does an ankle even do?
Your ankles are located between your foot and your leg and serve to help support your weight, and help you walk, run, and participate in other activities. Ankles are made up of three bones, including the tibia, the fibula, and the talus. Your ankles are surrounded by ligaments that connect these bones and offer additional support.
What is an ankle replacement?
Because of its importance, any individual who spends a lot of time on his or her feet can be severely impacted by an ankle injury. Problems in this area can include sprains and fractures, as well as ligament tears and injuries. Although many of these conditions can be treated with reconstruction or repair, sometimes the total ankle replacement is the best bet for a pain-free and healthy future. During a total ankle replacement, the damaged joint is surgically removed and replaced with an artificial joint. This helps restore function and motion to the joint.
How do I know if I need one?
A total ankle replacement is typically the last-ditch effort to restoring ankle health. Replacements are usually considered if a joint is severely damaged beyond repair and other methods of treatment have been unsuccessful. To determine if surgery is the appropriate choice for you, we can discuss what the procedure will mean for your life, as well as your other options, like an ankle fusion. Regardless of what you decide, you can take comfort in the fact that I will employee only the best, most advanced technology to help you during surgery. This includes a combination of computer imaging and a customized plan that will best suit your unique anatomy.
How long is recovery?
After your procedure, which takes place under general anesthesia to minimize discomfort, you will spend a short time in the hospital where a drain may be used to help remove blood from your ankle joint. Staff will make sure that you are medicated to control pain as you heal. Your ankle will typically be put in a cast or a splint to help it remain stable. Once you are able to bear weight on your new ankle, you will undergo several weeks of physical therapy to get back to an active state. This is a critical part of your recovery and should not be taken lightly. It’s important that you listen to your physical therapist so that you are able to strengthen your muscles and increase mobility.
After you are completely healed, you will find significant relief from chronic pain, as well as increased movement. Although the fact that you have a replacement ankle should always be kept in mind as you participate in physical activity, it shouldn’t limit you much. In fact, it is estimated that our patients’ ankle replacements may last for 10 years or more after a procedure takes place.