The average American walks well over a million steps each year. This repetitive motion places a lot of stress on the bones and ligaments of the ankle and lower leg, leading many people to experience occasional ankle pain. Fortunately, most cases of ankle pain will heal naturally, or can be treated using non-invasive methods, such as physical therapy. However, occasionally these methods prove ineffective and further treatment is necessary.
Orthopaedic specialist Andrew Ebert offers ankle surgery to eliminate ankle pain so that patients can walk and enjoy other physical activities in comfort. One common form of ankle surgery is ankle fusion. Ankle fusion treatment allows our Austin, TX patients to address damage to the ankle joint and control pain. Dr. Ebert is happy to discuss ankle fusion in further detail and help patients determine if this procedure is right for them.
Ankle fusion treatment is intended to repair an ankle that has become worn down or damaged due to degenerative arthritis. Typically, degenerative arthritis is the result of an ankle fracture. After an ankle fracture heals, it can leave the structure of the foot and lower leg unbalanced. This can lead to premature wearing of the ankle bone, which ultimately leads to ankle pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis can also wear down the ankle joint and lead to severe pain. If non-invasive treatments are unable to treat this pain, a patient may be an ideal candidate for ankle fusion treatment.
Ankle fusion is an alternative to an artificial joint. Patients who are ideal candidates for ankle fusion as opposed to an artificial joint include younger patients and those who are physically active. Whereas an artificial joint can wear out over time, ankle fusion should last a lifetime.
There are different surgical techniques that may be used to perform ankle fusion. However, the basics of each procedure are the same. First, an incision will be made to provide access to the ankle bone. Next, the articular cartilage on the surface of the ankle joint will be removed on both sides. Without the articular cartilage, the two sides of the ankle joint will try to come together and heal, just as if the joint had been fractured. The joint will need support while this healing takes place, so the bones will be held together with some combination of metal screws and plates. These devices are placed beneath the skin and do not need to be removed once the bone has healed.
Although every ankle fusion procedure will be personalized to the specific needs of each patient, it is always Dr. Ebert’s goal to use minimally invasive surgical techniques. Whenever possible, Dr. Ebert will perform ankle fusion using an arthroscope, which is a small surgical camera that is inserted into the ankle to provide a full view of surgery. This technique requires a much smaller incision, which results in reduced side effects and faster healing for our patients.
If you have severe ankle pain that has been unresponsive to non-invasive treatment methods, it may be time to consider surgery. Dr. Andrew Ebert offers advanced surgical techniques that enhance the precision of treatment while minimizing patient recovery. To learn more about these techniques and whether you may be a candidate for treatment, contact us at your earliest convenience.