Understanding Modern Ankle Replacements

Here in New York, we get a lot of questions about how ankle replacements work—and if they are the right option for everyone. That answer, of course, depends on a lot of factors, including the severity of your ankle concern and the overall health of the patient. Regardless, we are always happy to offer clarity about the procedure.

In previous decades, experts were skeptical about the different surgical options for treating ankle issues, like arthritis and severe damage due to accidents. As the Washington Post recently reported, this was largely based on concerns about dated techniques and the potential for infection following the procedure. As an alternative, they suggested anti-inflammatory drugs, complex footwear, and pain relievers, which provided temporary relief but left the larger issue to deal with. But no more! 

Enter the modern ankle replacement, which is offered in our facility and provides relief for years.

“This turnabout in medical treatment is due largely to the development of a half-dozen implant devices that were approved by the Food and Drug Administration beginning in the early 1990s,” notes the Post. “These prosthetic devices—made of advanced metal alloy and plastic—cover both the major shin bone and the ankle bone and are engineered to interact with each other and the patient’s body in a way that maximizes mobility and flexibility. […] At the same time, the medical profession has made great strides in developing better surgical techniques to ensure that the implants remain in place and function properly for years.”

What Does an Ankle Replacement Involve?

It’s always important that patients understand exactly what an ankle replacement entails. So what happens during the procedure? After you are comfortably under anesthesia, we make an incision along the front of the ankle and remove your damaged bone and cartilage. The artificial replacement joint is then inserted and attached to the bones of the leg and foot. The incision is closed and the ankle is usually put in a splint or cast to keep it stable. This procedure usually requires a short hospital stay, and a drain may be inserted to help drain blood from the ankle joint. If you’re worried about pain, don’t panic; medication is administered to control it. 

After your procedure, it is essential that you complete a strict physical therapy regimen to ensure proper healing. For most patients, this consists of time working with a professional, as well as at-home movements to help you gain strength and get used to your new joint. With proper care and maintenance, you can expect your new joint to last for around a decade before repairs or an additional replacement are needed.

Understandably, chronic ankle pain can limit your life enjoyment. Thankfully, today’s modern ankle treatments can get you back to the things you love. If you are interested in learning more about your surgical options, don’t hesitate to set up a consultation today.

Posted in: Ankle

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Dr. Hubbard’s goal as a Foot and Ankle Surgeon is to provide expertise in achieving an accurate diagnosis, implementing exceptional surgical technique whenever indicated, and most importantly, utilizing practical judgment to devise an effective individualized treatment plan that will restore the patient’s foot or ankle health and function, improving their overall quality of life.