An orthopedic surgeon may recommend ankle replacement surgery to patients with extensive damage to the soft tissues in the ankle, usually caused by arthritis. At an advanced stage, a patient’s progressive condition will cause severe pain and be accompanied by other disabling symptoms.
During an ankle replacement procedure, the surgeon will remove parts of the shinbone and foot and replace the parts with artificial pieces. The artificial parts will improve functionality in the ankle, so the patient feels minimal or no pain symptoms.
There is a recovery period following ankle replacement surgery that you should be aware of. Below is what you can generally expect.
It is recommended that patients limit movement during the first two weeks following ankle replacement surgery. The purpose of this is to allow the incision to heal and for the artificial parts to fuse with the natural parts of the ankle. During the first two months after surgery, be careful not to put weight on the affected ankle. You will have to use assistive devices to keep the ankle pressure-free when you stand or walk.
Physical therapy exercises may be introduced soon after surgery. Your physical therapist will help you sit, stand, and move about. You will also be instructed on how to safely do day-to-day tasks, such as going to the bathroom. Your physical therapist will also teach you how to best use crutches or a walker. Finally, physical therapy will involve learning and performing exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and function in the ankle joint.
Length of Recovery
Everyone recovers differently from ankle replacement surgery. Most likely, you can expect to wear a splint or boot for approximately six weeks following surgery. You will have to take at least a week or two off work and other commitments immediately following the procedure. You may be able to gradually return to work a few weeks after surgery, but your ability to stand and walk will be restricted for several more weeks.
Preparing for Ankle Surgery Can Help with Recovery
Studies show that patients who prepare for ankle replacement surgery have shorter and more successful recovery periods. Ask your doctor about pre-surgery rehabilitation exercises you can do to prepare your body for post-operative recovery.
Furthermore, you can prepare your home by placing everything within easy reach and installing assistive devices, such as raised toilet seats and handlebars in the bathroom and a bed assist rail in the bedroom. Such changes will be very useful in helping you move around safely after surgery.
You are likely to feel pain immediately following surgery, which will require the use of pain medication for a while. Preparing for ankle surgery should also include arrangements with loved ones to determine who will drive you home after surgery as well as meal preparations, grocery shopping, house chores, and bill payments. Your doctor have a detailed discussion with you about what to expect post-surgery. Follow your doctor’s orders to make your recovery as successful as possible.
Joint Replacement Surgeon in Dover, NJ
If you are experiencing severe ankle pain due to a degenerative disease, the joint replacement surgeons at the Orthopedic Associates of West Jersey (OAWJ) can help. We have performed many ankle replacement surgeries and have helped numerous patients return to productive, active, and pain-free lives. We will be by your side every step of the way in your ankle replacement journey – from the initial consultation to post-surgery recovery.
To schedule a consultation with our joint replacement specialists, call the Orthopedic Associates of West Jersey (OAWJ) at (973) 989-0888 or request an appointment online now.