Ankle Replacement Can Relieve Severe Arthritis and Restore Mobility

Arthritis can become severe, limiting joint mobility and causing significant discomfort. If you suffer from acute arthritis in your ankle, our doctors can perform total ankle replacement at Orthopedic Specialists of Austin. Also known as ankle arthroplasty, this is a newer treatment than other types of total joint replacement. Nonetheless, it has shown great promise and can be immensely effective in restoring your physical mobility. At our Austin, TX, practice, we always begin with conservative treatments before moving on to surgery. If you do not respond to these treatments, we are ready to perform the state-of-the-art joint replacement you need. Dr. Andrew Ebert is a board-certified foot and ankle specialist. His colleagues, Dr. Matthew Heinrich and Dr. David Dodgin focus on total joint replacement. Working together, they will plan a customized procedure with the shortest recovery possible.

What Is Ankle Arthritis?

illustration of an ankle with arthritisOsteoarthritis develops when the soft protective tissue covering the ends of your bones begins to wear away or break down. The space between bones may also narrow, and the two sides of your joint may grind together. The friction can be quite painful, and it can cause pronounced inflammation in your ankle and foot. Because this part of your body bears your weight and absorbs the shock when you walk, run, or jump, ankle arthritis can be debilitating. Although it is less common than arthritis in the knees or hips, our doctors are familiar with appropriate treatment protocols and will provide outstanding care.

Alternatives to Ankle Replacement

Though effective, joint replacement is a significant surgery that requires a committed recovery period. Therefore, we will always try conservative treatment options first:

  • Restricting activities that produce ankle pain
  • Wearing more comfortable shoes with padded heels and that lace above the ankle
  • Bracing with an ankle lacer

Joint fusion is another surgical option for ankle arthritis. However, while it can dramatically relive pain, it also limits the range of motion and can make it difficult to enjoy certain activities.

The Ankle Replacement Procedure

If you suffer from pronounced discomfort and stiffness in your ankle, and you do not respond to less-extensive treatments, ankle replacement may be appropriate. Prior to joint replacement, you will receive general anesthesia. Then your surgeon will create incisions in your ankle. He will place a longer one in the front, and he will make smaller openings on the outside. Through the incisions, he will remove the ragged foot bone and joint, replacing it with a prosthetic made from metal and high-density polyethylene. If needed, he will also stretch a tight calf muscle or Achilles’ tendon to improve range of motion. The entire surgery will usually take about two-and-a-half hours.

Once you have healed, you can enjoy a much more active life, and you may feel more like yourself than you have in years.

Recovery after Surgery

Typically, you will stay in the hospital for two to three days following your procedure. After you return home, you will need to use crutches for about four to six weeks before returning for x-rays. With these scans, we can determine whether you can put more weight on your ankle. At this point, you will likely start wearing a boot to stabilize the joint. Throughout your recovery, you will visit a physical therapist regularly. For a more successful recovery, it is vital that you perform your exercises at home, as well as in the office. It may be up to 12 months before you can engage in all your favorite activities again. Once you have healed, you can enjoy a much more active life, and you may feel more like yourself than you have in years.

Improve Your Quality of Life

To learn how ankle replacement can renew your life and to find out if it is right for you, contact our office online. You can also schedule an appointment by reaching out at (512) 476-2830.