What is ankle replacement surgery

Your ankles are a combination of hardworking and complex. That means that they take a great deal of stress over the course of your life, and that when they become injured, repairing them can be complex as well. While many conditions that cause chronic ankle pain can be treated using conservative measures, some patients continue to live with ongoing pain that is severe enough to interfere with their daily lives. In these cases, ankle joint replacement surgery may be recommended as a way to provide pain relief and improve function.

At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, Dr. Narendra Patel, a board-certified foot & ankle podiatric surgeon, is proud to provide patients with ankle replacement surgery that can provide lasting relief. He has been performing Total Ankle Joint Replacement (TAR) since 2003. With close to 20 years of experience in TAR, he can help you determine if you are a candidate. Here's what you can expect if you're considering this procedure:

What Is Ankle Replacement Surgery?

Ankle replacement surgery, also known as ankle arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure in which the damaged ankle joint is replaced with an implant. This ankle surgery is most often recommended for patients whose ankle pain is severe enough to interfere with their quality of life, and who have tried other conservative treatment options without relief.

What Are The Benefits Of Ankle Replacement Surgery?

The decision to undergo any type of surgery is a serious one, and it's important to fully understand the ways in which your procedure may help you overcome your chronic pain. There are many potential benefits of ankle replacement surgery, including:

  • Relief from chronic pain: One of the most common reasons that patients opt for ankle replacement surgery is to find relief from chronic pain. This surgery can provide significant pain relief, allowing patients to return to their daily activities with minimal discomfort.
  • Improved function: In addition to reducing pain, ankle replacement surgery can also improve function. This means that patients will be able to walk and participate in other activities with minimal to no pain and more ease.
  • A shorter recovery time: With ankle replacement surgery, patients can often expect a shorter recovery time when compared to traditional fusion surgery. This means that patients can get back to their lives more quickly.
  • A lower risk of complications: Specialized incision for ankle replacement surgery also comes with a lower risk of complications than traditional surgery. This includes a lower risk of infection, blood clots, and nerve damage.

What Can I Expect Before Ankle Replacement Surgery?

Before your surgery, you will meet with your podiatric foot & ankle surgeon to discuss the details of the procedure. This is a good time to ask any questions that you may have about the surgery or the recovery process. It will also be at this time Dr. Patel will let you know if you qualify for this surgery based on your medical history and x-ray findings.

Your podiatric foot & ankle surgeon will also conduct several tests before you decide on surgery. These may include x-rays, CT scans, and/or an MRI. These tests are important in order to make sure that ankle replacement surgery is the best option for you. At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, Dr. Narendra Patel is passionate about working one-on-one with every patient, helping them gain a full understanding of their procedure and ultimately make the right decision for their needs and goals. Dr. Patel utilizes custom 3-D printing for the instruments used in surgery based on your CT scan. This cuts down on the time for your surgery.

What Can I Expect During Ankle Replacement Surgery?

Knowing what to expect before your procedure can help to ease any anxiety that you may be feeling. Here's is additional information about ankle replacement surgery

  • During the surgery, your surgeon will make an incision in the front of your ankle joint.
  • Through these incisions, your surgeon will access the damaged joint and remove it. 
  • The artificial joint will then be placed into the empty space. 
  • Once the artificial joint is in place, your surgeon will close the incisions with stitches or staples.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Ankle Joint Replacement?

Most patients will stay off the ankle for a week while the swelling and pain subside. You will need to use a wheelchair, walker, or knee scooter for the first week. You will not be able to bear weight on that ankle during the first week. At your first postoperative visit, you will be placed in a cast that you can bear weight on. However, you will need to use crutches or a cane for support. Eventually, around the third week, you will also need to wear a special boot or brace for about four to six weeks. Most patients are able to return to their normal activities within three to six months. However, it may take up to a year for some patients to fully recover.

It's important to remember that physical therapy will be an important part of your recovery. This step is essential for regaining strength and range of motion in your ankle, and the closer you follow your surgeon's instructions, the better your outcome is likely to be.

Say Goodbye To Chronic Ankle Pain

Ankle replacement surgery is a highly beneficial option for those suffering from chronic ankle pain. Not only does it relieve ankle pain and improve function, but it also has a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complications compared to traditional fusion surgery. It's important to discuss your options with a trusted foot & ankle surgeon and follow their instructions closely for the best possible outcome.

If you're considering ankle replacement surgery, Dr. Narendra Patel at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists can help. He is dedicated to providing each patient with individualized care and attention and customized instruments, from pre-operative planning to post-operative rehabilitation.

To be scheduled with Dr. Narendra Patel, contact Barrington Orthopedic Specialists at (847) 285-4200 or schedule online here.

For urgent needs when our physician’s offices are closed, visit our Immediate Orthopedic Care (IOC) in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why would someone need a total ankle replacement?

Total ankle replacement is often recommended for those suffering from chronic pain or severe ankle arthritis that has not responded to non-surgical treatments. It can also be a better option than ankle fusion if the patient wants to maintain more natural motion in their ankle joint.

Is total ankle replacement surgery painful?

During the procedure, patients are typically put under general anesthesia or given a regional block. This means that you will not feel any pain during the surgery. After the surgery, patients may experience some discomfort and swelling, but this can be managed with pain medication and elevating the ankle.

How long does the recovery process take?

Recovery time varies for each patient, but most patients are able to return to their normal activities within three to six months. However, it may take up to a year for some patients to fully recover. It's important to follow your surgeon's instructions and attend physical therapy sessions for the best outcome.

Will I need physical therapy after ankle replacements?

Yes, physical therapy is an important part of the recovery process. It will help to regain strength and range of motion in your ankle joint. Your surgeon may recommend specific exercises or activities to assist with your rehabilitation. It's important to follow their instructions closely for the best possible outcome.  So, it is recommended to undergo physical therapy after your ankle replacement surgery.