Total ankle replacement (also called total ankle arthroplasty) is a surgical procedure performed for patients suffering from chronic ankle or heel pain or related symptoms that are significant enough to interfere with regular daily functioning and mobility. Most people who undergo total ankle-replacement surgery have severe joint damage due to arthritis, a progressive disease that causes the joint surfaces to wear away over time, resulting in significant joint and heel pain. The condition is often accompanied by ankle instability. Total ankle replacement can also be performed after a traumatic injury such as a joint dislocation or an ankle fracture.
Dr. Blue is skilled in joint reconstruction techniques using the most advanced surgical techniques. Surgery is performed under general anesthesia so you’ll sleep through the entire procedure. Dr. Blue will make an incision on the top or side of the ankle, depending on the approach he decides to use for your specific situation.
Next, he’ll cut the ankle bone and prepare the ends of the bone for the placement of the implant components, which are made of durable materials and designed to function and move like a natural ankle joint. If the calf muscle or Achilles tendon is very tight, Dr. Blue may use special techniques to lengthen it before placing the prosthetic ankle joint components to prevent overstraining the joint. Once the components are in place and properly fitted, they’ll be permanently adhered using a special surgical cement.
Dr. Blue will then close the incisions and place a splint and a bandage over the ankle. Once the surgery is complete, he’ll apply a cast or a special surgical boot to your foot to immobilize it while it heals. Most people gradually resume their normal activities within 6-8 weeks.
Joint surgery is only performed when other more conservative treatment options like medications and physical therapy have failed to provide long-term relief of chronic ankle or heel pain or when those approaches are not feasible (such as following a severe fracture). Ankle arthroplasty can also be a good choice for patients who don’t want to undergo joint-fusion procedures that eliminate movement in the joint. If you have significant neuropathy or circulation problems in your lower leg or foot or poor muscle function in your leg, you may not be a good candidate for ankle-replacement surgery.
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