There are many causes of osteoarthritis in the ankle joint. Repetitive sprains, fractures, and abnormal biomechanics can all contribute to the loss of cartilage and a steady increase in pain. For many patients, ankle arthritis can be managed with conservative measures such as activity changes, bracing, and steroid or PRP injections. In severe cases of ankle arthritis, where conservative measures haven’t helped, ankle replacement is a procedure that can offer significant pain relief and a return to many activities.
Total Ankle Replacements have been around for decades, but only in the past several years have
the newer implants started to provide some patients with a dependable alternative to an ankle fusion. Although an ankle fusion and an ankle replacement can both reduce severe pain, an ankle replacement tries to preserve as much motion as possible in the area. The more normal the motion in the ankle, the less stress on surrounding joints.
Ankle replacement implants are composed of a metal tibial component (the portion that is used in your lower leg bone), the metal talar component (the portion that covers the bone in your ankle), and a polyethylene component (the portion that acts like cartilage by providing some shock absorption and allows movement between the metal pieces without allowing them to rub against one another).
Similar to hip and knee replacements, ankle replacements require at least an overnight stay in the hospital, but differ from these other surgeries because weight-bearing is usually not allowed until 6 weeks after the procedure.
Not all patients with severe ankle arthritis will need surgery. The majority of patients can be treated with very effective conservative measures. But, in painful and unresponsive cases, ankle replacements can help patients return to a better quality of life.