Ankle pain can affect every aspect of your life. Your ankles are crucial to movement, and pain can hinder you from engaging in your daily activities and interests. You may find relief from conservative or non-surgical treatments, but if they are ineffective, your orthopedist may recommend ankle replacement surgery.
Let’s look at how your orthopedist determines whether you need ankle replacement surgery.
What Is an Ankle Replacement?
An ankle replacement is a prosthesis or implant. The prosthesis is an artificial joint made of metal and plastic parts that replaces damaged bone and cartilage.
You will be given a general anesthetic or a nerve block during the ankle replacement surgery. Your orthopedist will make a cut in the front and sides of your ankle, from which the damaged bone and cartilage will be removed. The joint surface will be prepared for the prosthesis. Your orthopedist will insert the prosthesis, check the range of motion, and perform other steps to ensure proper alignment. After that, the incisions will be closed with stitches. It takes roughly two and a half hours to complete the procedure.
Factors Considered by Your Orthopedist
To ensure success and lower risks, your orthopedist will consider a number of factors in determining whether you are a candidate for ankle replacement.
Some medical conditions increase the severity of ankle pain and joint damage. If you have any of these, you are more likely to undergo ankle replacement surgery:
A loss of range of motion in the ankle joint can result from severe ankle fractures that mend poorly. Your orthopedist may recommend a total ankle replacement to resolve this issue and restore full functionality.
If you have mild arthritis, your doctor may suggest various treatment methods, such as pain relievers, customized footwear and foot inserts, physical therapy, or corticosteroid injections.
If your symptoms become severe and interfere with your everyday activities, your orthopedist may recommend an ankle replacement. Patients with a prior injury, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis are often candidates for the procedure.
Some disabilities can cause limited mobility and range of motion loss in the ankle. If conservative therapies do not work, it may necessitate an ankle replacement.
Changed Gait from Injury
If you changed your walking style due to an ankle injury, you may notice pain in your knees, legs, hips, or back. An ankle replacement may help restore your normal gait and ease the painful symptoms.
However, if you have any of the following medical conditions, your orthopedist will likely not recommend an ankle replacement:
- Circulatory problems
- Bone infection
Age and Lifestyle
Healthy people over the age of 60 are generally recommended to get an ankle replacement. High-impact activities like running or jumping can damage an artificial ankle joint quickly. Doctors may not recommend the surgery to those who usually engage in high-impact sports or work. Heavy smokers or significantly overweight people are also not considered good candidates for ankle replacement. These may increase the risk of complications during and after surgery.
In determining if you are a candidate for ankle replacement surgery, your orthopedist will perform a physical exam and medical diagnostic testing. Individuals with low bone density, for example, are less likely to undergo ankle replacement surgery because of the increased risk of complications.
Your orthopedist will carefully review your situation and consider all these factors to determine if you are a good candidate for an ankle replacement.
Ankle Replacement in Dover, NJ
Ankle replacement is a complex procedure that requires your orthopedist to determine carefully if you are a suitable candidate. At Orthopedic Associates of West Jersey, our board-certified orthopedic surgeons provide personalized treatment, including ankle replacement surgery, for a variety of orthopedic conditions.
Do you want to know if you are a good fit for an ankle replacement? Call us at (973) 989-0888 or fill out our easy-to-use online form to schedule an appointment today. We look forward to serving you!