ADHD: A Parenting Guide

What You Need To Know About Total Ankle Replacement Surgery

If you have arthritis in your ankles, your doctor may recommend a total ankle arthroplasty, or TAA. This surgery replaces damaged bone with metal and plastic parts to give you back the flexibility in your ankle. You'll be able to walk again without pain. Here is some information you need to know about what arthritis has done to your ankle and how this surgery will get you on your feet again.

Your Ankle Joint

The end of your lower leg bone, the tibia, is slightly concave. The top of your first ankle bone, the talus, is slightly convex. These two bones fit together allowing your ankle to flex up and down, rotate, and move slightly side to side. Tough tissue called ligaments hold the bones together and tendons attach muscles to the bones. Between the bones, cartilage allows them to move smoothly without touching each other directly. When all of these components work together correctly, your ankle moves freely and without pain.

How Arthritis Damages Your Ankles

Osteoarthritis causes the bone surfaces to wear down quickly. The end of the tibia and top of the talus can become rough and lose their shape. This damages the cartilage and eventually allows the bones to rub against each other, causing pain and inflammation. As this continues, you'll have difficulty walking and it will always be painful.

Rheumatoid arthritis damages the cartilage in the ankle and causes inflammation. Without adequate protection by the cartilage, the bones will rub against each other as you move your ankle. This causes pain and more inflammation, making it difficult to walk.

Ankle Treatment By Joint Replacement

Neither form of arthritis is curable, so traditional treatment is only of the symptoms. Replacing your ankle with artificial parts removes the current damage in your ankle and prevents the arthritis from causing more problems.

A doctor will perform the surgery in a hospital or orthopedics clinic with you under general anesthesia. The end of the tibia and top of the talus will be shaped to receive the two artificial join components. Both pieces are made of metal and plastic. The top component is concave and is put into place in your tibia. The bottom piece is convex and is attached to the talus. Both pieces are held in place with a special bone glue. Sometimes arthritis will cause a shortening of your Achilles tendon, so the surgeon may lengthen that to give your ankle better range of motion.

Recovering From Ankle Surgery

Your doctor will use a splint or cast to immobilize your ankle for several days while it is healing. During that time, you must keep weight off of it and will be given exercises to slowly strengthen the muscles in your ankle. When the doctor is satisfied that healing is progressing well, they will start you walking with physical therapy with a light weight on your foot. It may take several weeks before you can put all of your weight on the ankle.

Ankle joint replacement is a way to regain the use of your ankles and prevent further degeneration by your arthritis. If you have arthritis in both ankles, only one at a time will be treated. While it may take several months, you will be back up on both feet, without pain, and enjoy years of use from your new ankle joints. Contact a company like Northern Care Inc Orthotics & Prosthetics for more information.