Take a look at the joints that support you while you walk or stand, and you will see that the ankles have a very important job to do. If something goes wrong with your ankle joints, you can be dealing with severe impairments in your mobility or your ability to simply stand at all. Thankfully, just as the knees and hip joints can be replaced, so can the ankles. However, ankle replacement surgery is not something that a lot of people know about. Take a look at some of the questions prospective patients tend to have about ankle replacement surgery.
What is the difference between ankle replacement and ankle fusion?
During an ankle fusion procedure, damaged bones inside of the ankle joint are fused together and held in place by screws and plates. On the other hand, ankle replacement involves removing the existing damaged bone tissue and replacing it with an artificial joint made of plastic and metal. Ankle fusion is a little bit more common than ankle replacement, but both procedures have their advantages and drawbacks. For example, ankle fusion typically works better for younger adults then full-on ankle replacement because younger adults have bones that will heal faster.
What is recovery like after ankle replacement surgery?
The recovery process after ankle replacement surgery can be pretty extensive. It will be required that you avoid putting any weight or stress on the new joint as it heals. Therefore, you will likely be wearing a splint and have to use crutches for an extended period of time. High-impact activities will have to be avoided during and for a while after your recovery to avoid damaging the newly placed ankle joint. Physical therapy will also be required soon after your surgery to encourage the new ankle replacement to properly perform once it heals.
What are the complications associated with ankle replacement surgery?
Just as it is with any joint replacement surgery, ankle replacement surgery will involve the risk of certain complications. The most common concern after ankle replacement surgery is making sure the new joint fuses with the existing bone so the ankle will properly function. If the fusion does not take place as it should and the bone does not heal to the new joint, you may be facing problems like weakness in the joint, stiffness that prevents mobility of the joint, and joint instability that makes you more likely to lose your balance while you are standing.