As we age, our joints wear down, resulting in pain and mobility loss. Often, physical therapy and medications can manage pain and improve quality of life. However, if the joints are too badly damaged, more invasive measures may be taken.
Horizon Foot & Ankle Institute, located in St. Louis, MO, is dedicated to helping our patients reclaim their lives from foot bone damage. As part of this mission, we offer ankle replacement surgery.
What Is Ankle Joint Replacement?
As we age, the cartilage around the joint wears away, eliminating the cushioning effect that makes walking comfortable. When non-invasive ankle treatments fail, surgery may be the solution.
During replacement surgery, we remove the damaged joint and replace it with an artificial implant. These implants are made of metal, plastic, or both and function as a regular ankle does.
What Does Ankle Joint Replacement Surgery Entail?
The doctors at our St. Louis, MO, clinic are happy to review the replacement process with you, as there are several steps you must take as a patient. Before surgery, patients may be asked to do the following:
- Make recovery arrangements
- Stop smoking
- Pause certain medications
Each of these steps increases the chance of success. If there are any requirements unique to your situation, your physician will discuss them with you before surgery.
Since surgery requires incisions, patients are always placed under anesthesia. Patients are usually given general anesthesia for ankle joint replacement, ensuring they feel no pain or discomfort. Patients report it feels like going to sleep, and they have no memory of the procedure afterward.
As you recover, it's essential you keep weight off your ankle so it heals correctly. To this end, you may be given crutches and a splint, as well as instructions to reduce swelling and prevent stiffness. You may also need assistance with daily activities, so arrange for a loved one or caregiver to be available for a few weeks after surgery.
What Can Ankle Joint Replacement Treat?
Replacing a joint is an extreme measure, but it may be necessary depending on your diagnosis. While ankle damage is often the result of the natural aging process, a few conditions can accelerate or exacerbate the issue.
Improperly Healed Fracture
When a bone fractures, it needs to be set, or it won't heal correctly. Improperly healed fractures can limit your range of motion. In this case, replacement may be the only option to regain mobility.
Ankle instability occurs when ligaments overstretch and become weak. This condition often shows up in individuals with repeated ankle sprains. The more often you sprain your ankle, the greater your risk of doing so in the future, creating a vicious cycle. Replacing the ankle joint with a prosthetic can interrupt the cycle and give your feet the necessary strength to play sports or exercise.
Chronic Ankle Pain Due to Trauma
Trauma from an accident or sports injury can permanently weaken the ankle joint, making it susceptible to deterioration. If you experience chronic pain after the ankle has healed, your joint may be deteriorating at an accelerated rate.
Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis cause the immune system to attack your joints. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition, though replacing the damaged joint can provide relief.
How Can You Schedule an Exam at Horizon Foot & Ankle Institute?
Horizon Foot & Ankle Institute serves St. Louis, MO, and the surrounding area. If you've experienced pain, inflammation, or swelling in your ankles, we urge you to visit. Our podiatrists, Dr. Jacob Button and Dr. Raymond Brickhouse can take a look to determine the cause of the problem. We offer a variety of ankle treatments, up to and including joint replacement surgery. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at (314) 381-1800 or contact us online.