There are a lot of pains you can try to just live with, but if you’re suffering from ankle trouble, it’s an issue that has to be addressed. Your ankle plays a role in just about any type of movement, and having difficulty walking can be a very frustrating experience.
That’s why many people turn to ankle replacement surgery. This procedure can not only repair an injury but have you feeling even better than you did before.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Ankle Replacement Surgery?
If you suffer from ankle pain or swollen ankles, there are a few things you want to try before considering surgery—like an ankle brace, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, or injections. But if you’ve tried those things and have not found relief, you may be a good candidate for an ankle replacement.
You might also be a good candidate for ankle replacement surgery if you suffer from conditions like:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Other conditions that significantly reduce movement and function
It’s important to note though, that there are several health conditions, like diabetes, obesity, or bone infections that actually mean you would not be an ideal candidate for an ankle replacement. Speaking to a healthcare professional is the first step in determining if you could benefit from this surgery.
What Does Ankle Replacement Surgery Involve?
Also known as ankle arthroplasty, it’s a surgery where the surface of two bones that make up the joint, the tibia and talus, is replaced with artificial parts. The parts can be either plastic or metal.
Before the surgery, you will likely need an imaging test like an MRI, CT scan, or X-ray so doctors can ascertain the exact damage they’re working with.
For the actual surgery, you’ll be given general anesthesia and an incision will be made on the lower part of your leg and the upper part of your ankle. Muscles and tissue in the area are removed, and a portion of the exposed bone is removed before being replaced with prosthetic material. A special medical cement is used to fuse the pieces in place.
Usually, a plastic spacer is then inserted into the open area between the bones to allow them to move properly. The incision will be closed with either staples or stitches and the surgeon will perform a check to ensure the bones are aligned properly and that range of motion is sufficient.
What Is the Recovery Process for Ankle Replacement Surgery?
Unfortunately, since your ankle is pretty critical to walking, the recovery process for ankle replacement surgery can take some time. The process will involve physical therapy, medication to stop blood clots, strength exercises, stretches to increase flexibility and range of motion, and weight-bearing exercises that increase gradually.
- First four weeks after surgery. Wearing a cast, walking with crutches, keeping your foot elevated, and not putting any weight on your ankle at all.
- Four weeks after surgery. Wearing a walking boot and beginning physical therapy.
- Eight weeks after surgery. Wearing normal shoes and starting limited activities.
At about the four-month mark, you’ll only be 60 to 75% recovered, but many patients report feeling better than before at this point. Full recovery time is generally around one year. Perhaps the biggest area of planning when it comes to recovery is your living arrangements, as you’ll be using crutches for up to 28 days.
Call Our Omaha Ankle Replacement Surgery Specialists for Help
If you’re suffering from ankle pain that makes it difficult to enjoy things you once did, an ankle replacement surgery may be the answer to regaining your quality of life. Since 1991, the expert team of Dr. Michael Cullen and Dr. Nathan Penney at Omaha Foot & Ankle Specialists have helped patients navigate their medical needs with compassion. Complete our contact form or call our office at 402-333-8856 to schedule an appointment and find out if ankle replacement surgery is right for you.