Ankle Replacement Surgery

Ankle replacement surgery is recommended for patients who have lost mobility and function in the leg and ankle. It is a joint replacement surgery (also known as ankle arthroplasty) that replaces the bone surfaces and other tissues with prosthetic components. 

When the tissues and structures of the ankle joint are damaged beyond natural repair, your orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon may recommend ankle replacement surgery for you. Ankle replacement surgery helps to reduce ankle pain, increase joint stability, and improve overall mobility and function.

Ideal Candidate for Ankle Replacement Surgery

Your orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon may recommend ankle replacement surgery for you if you have:

  • Advanced Osteoarthritis
  • Debilitating Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Chronic Ankle Pain Due to A Sports Injury or Trauma
  • Disability (limited mobility and loss of range of motion)
  • Weakness in the Ankle Due to Bone Loss
  • Ankle Instability (due to having multiple ankle sprains)
  • A Severe Ankle Fracture That Heals Improperly

Ankle replacement surgery is not typically recommended for patients who have bone infections, circulatory problems, diabetes, or obesity. Other viable options, such as an ankle fusion or ankle arthroscopy, may be considered for these patients instead.

Ankle Replacement Procedure

During ankle replacement surgery, your orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon will make a cut in the front and sides of your ankle and remove the damaged bone and cartilage. He then smoothes the surfaces of the bones and replaces your joint parts with prosthetics made from plastic and metal.

Generally, patients can expect to stay in the hospital for 1-2 days. When your pain is under control and you can get around safely with crutches or a walker, you will be released from the hospital.

Aftercare Instructions for Ankle Replacement Surgery

When you are released from the hospital, your doctor will give you the following aftercare instructions:

  • Take your pain medication as prescribed.
  • Put pillows under your leg to keep it raised above your heart when lying down.
  • Call your doctor if your pain is severe, you have a fever above 101 F and develop chills, or if you have a green or yellow liquid draining from the wound. 
  • Report any new swelling or numbness right away.
  • Keep the bandage on your wound clean and dry to minimize the chances of an infection.
  • Cover the bandage with a plastic bag when showering.
  • Show up for your follow-up appointment (2 weeks post-surgery) to have your stitches removed.
  • Participate in physical therapy prescribed to strengthen your ankle and increase your range of motion. 
  • Take time off from work. Have someone help you with meals and household chores so you can rest and recover.

Recovery from Ankle Replacement Surgery

Recovery from ankle replacement surgery is a process. It can take up to a year for you to walk like you used to and get back to your normal activities.  

During recovery, you can expect the following:

  • You will have a dressing to cover the incision, and your foot will be placed in a splint. The splint is hard in the back and soft in the front. It gives your ankle room to swell and protects it from further injury.
  • You will need to use crutches or a walker for 4-6 weeks to keep your weight off your new ankle. After 6 weeks, your surgeon will order an x-ray to see if your ankle is healing well. If so, then you can stop using crutches, and you’ll have the splint removed and be fitted for a boot. Once you are fitted for a boot, you can begin walking on the ankle. After 3 months, the boot comes off, and your doctor will give you a special shoe with a brace to hold your ankle steady.
  • You will be cleared to drive once you can put pressure on the pedals without feeling pain. 
  • You need to avoid high-impact activities, such as running and contact sports, which can damage your new ankle.

Risks Associated with Ankle Replacement Surgery

As with any surgery, there are associated risks. For ankle replacement surgery, the risks include:

  • Blod Clots
  • Infection
  • Loosening of Implants
  • Nerve or Blood Vessel Damage
  • Wearing Down of Metal and Plastic Components Over Time

Ankle Replacement Surgery in Modesto, CA

If you have chronic ankle pain and are interested in ankle replacement surgery, please call OrthoMed Center at (209) 524-4438 to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic surgeons. You may also request an appointment online.

Ankle Replacement Surgery FAQs

What is the success rate of ankle replacement surgery?

Ankle replacement surgery is successful for most patients, alleviating pain and preserving motion at the ankle.

How long before you can walk after ankle replacement?

After ankle replacement surgery, patients need to use crutches or a walker for 4-6 weeks to avoid putting weight on the ankle. After 6 weeks, your surgeon will order an x-ray to see if your ankle is healing well. If so, then you can stop using crutches, and you’ll have the splint removed and be fitted for a boot. Once you are fitted for a boot, you can begin walking on the ankle. After 3 months, the boot comes off, and your doctor will give you a special shoe with a brace to hold your ankle steady.

How long does ankle replacement surgery take?

Ankle replacement surgery takes about 2.5 hours.

What kind of anesthesia is used for ankle replacement surgery?

General anesthesia is typically used for ankle replacement surgery. The other option is a nerve block, which lets you stay awake during surgery.

How long does an ankle replacement last?

Ankle replacements can last 10 years or more.

1335 Coffee Road Suite #101
Modesto, CA 95355

Phone: (209) 524-4438

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Monday through Friday
8:00 am - 5:00 pm

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OrthoMed Center aims to be the preferred provider of high-quality musculoskeletal care to the people of Modesto. We provide cutting-edge medical care while also ensuring we treat patients and their families with the utmost compassion as they find their way back to good health.
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