I see a lot of new patients that struggle with arthritis. One of the most common places is the ankle joint. We usually start simple with x-rays, bracing, anti-inflammatories, injection therapy, and minimally invasive procedures like an ankle scope. What happens if all of those things fail? In the past, the ankle fusion was the only viable alternative. That may sound aggressive and limiting but, truth be told, most people do very well with the procedure. I admit that it does sound scary to no longer be able to move the ankle joint. Many patients then ask, “Are there any other options? Surgeons can replace hips and knees. Can they replace ankles?” The answer is YES.
The first total ankle replacements came out decades ago with more complications than success. Over the years, things have slowly improved. Companies are now on 3rd generation implants which have been very successful. In the past year, I have started doing them at Presbyterian and they are now approved at Lovelace. Patients have been very happy with these implants and do quite well with them. The replacements are followed by 2-3 days in the hospital but most patients get to go home. Most patients are walking 4-6 weeks after surgery as opposed to 8-12 weeks with an ankle fusion.
The most important thing to recognize is that not everyone is a good candidate. I look at age, severity, deformity, activity level, weight, and of course, medical history before I perform these surgeries. So, if you’ve been suffering with ankle pain and avoiding surgery because of limited options, I would be happy to meet with you and see if you are a candidate for a total joint implant.
Don’t Live Life In Pain! Call us at 505.880.1000 today to make an appointment.
Jonathan Williamson, DPM