Mayo Clinic: Iíve had arthritis for years, but the place
where it bothers me the most is in my ankles. Iím
considering ankle replacement surgery, but Iíve read itís
risky. How do surgeons determine who is a good candidate for
this surgery? How long is the recovery? I am 58 and otherwise
replacement surgery is a complex procedure, and itís
typically used only after other treatments havenít worked.
Carefully reviewing your situation with your doctor to
determine if youíre a good candidate for this surgery is
critical. Full recovery from ankle replacement surgery can
take up to a year.
for arthritis in the ankles frequently starts with pain
medication, such as anti-inflammatory medicines, a brace or
other support, and physical therapy to strengthen the muscles
around the ankle joint. In addition, procedures such as
cortisone injections or lubrication injections may offer
steps are not enough to reduce ankle arthritis pain and other
symptoms, surgery may be appropriate. The two surgeries
frequently recommended are ankle fusion and ankle replacement.
fusion, a surgeon fastens together the damaged ankle bones
with metal plates and screws. During the healing process, the
bones fuse into one combined bone. Ankle fusion usually is
successful in relieving arthritis pain, but it also reduces
the ankle jointís ability to move. To make up for this,
nearby joints may have to move more. That increases the risk
of developing arthritis in those joints.
fusion is more common than ankle replacement because, in
general, it lasts longer and doesnít require as many
long-term activity restrictions. Fusion usually is recommended
for younger people with more active lifestyles.
replacement surgery, the ends of the damaged bones are removed
and replaced with a joint made of plastic and metal. This
artificial joint helps the ankle retain more movement, so
there is less risk of arthritis developing in nearby joints.
Ankle replacement tends to have more risks associated with it,
however, than ankle fusion. And the results of this surgery
may not last as long as ankle fusion for some people. But
ankle replacement surgery does provide more mobility. In the
right person, ankle replacement can be an excellent choice.
general, ankle replacement is recommended for people older
than 60 who donít participate in high-impact activities,
such as running, and who are not overweight. The surgery may
not be a good option if you have weakened ankle ligaments,
misaligned ankle bones or nerve damage from diabetes or other
replacement surgery, your ankle will be in a splint, and youíll
need to use crutches. You wonít be able to put any weight on
your ankle for several weeks. After that, youíll likely
start physical therapy and slowly move to weight-bearing
activities. Most people need some type of splint or brace on
the ankle for at least three months. It may be a year after
ankle replacement surgery before youíre able to return to
all of your normal activities.
replacement requires bone to grow into the artificial joint so
that the new joint can work correctly. If that doesnít
happen, significant complications could occur. They include
ankle weakness, stiffness or instability, as well as loosening
or dislocation of the artificial joint over time. If any of
that happens, you may need another surgery to replace or
remove the artificial joint and possibly fuse the ankle
you make a decision on ankle replacement surgery, review all
of your treatment options with your health care provider. Your
age, medical history and lifestyle, and any arthritis
treatment youíve had, will help determine if this surgery is
right for you, or if another treatment choice may be a better