Am I a Candidate for Total Ankle Replacement?

Ankle pain is a common complaint, especially among adults, athletes, and just about anyone who takes part in physical activities in which the feet are subjected to a lot of strain and impact. While some types of pain are related to traumatic injuries, like fractures and sprains, a significant amount of chronic ankle pain is due to arthritis. Some types of ankle pain can be effectively treated with conservative options, like medication, injections, and physical therapy. But when conservative options fail to provide long-term, meaningful relief of painful symptoms, total ankle replacement may be the best option.

At The Frazier Foot and Ankle Clinic, we help patients get the most appropriate treatment for their ankle pain. While we always begin with therapy and other conservative options, we also offer state-of-the-art joint replacement surgery to relieve pain and joint dysfunction while restoring joint mobility. Here’s how to tell when total ankle replacement might be the best choice for you.

What is total ankle replacement?

Total ankle replacement (TAR) surgery replaces a damaged ankle joint with prosthetic joint components. As an experienced, board-certified foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Frazier is skilled in the most innovative, effective surgical techniques, including the Scandinavian Total Ankle Replacement technique, or STARTM. In the STAR technique, the ends of the two primary bones that form the ankle joint — the talus and the tibia — are covered with a durable material. Then the special STAR artificial joint component is attached. The STAR joint is composed of medical-grade plastic material for seamless, friction-free, natural joint function. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia, sometimes combined with a nerve block to minimize post-op discomfort during the early stages of healing.

After your ankle surgery, you’ll need to plan some time to rest and relax. It’s important to stay off your foot completely for several days, and you might need to spend a night or two in the hospital to help you through the early stages of healing. Typically, it takes two to three weeks for the incision site to heal. After that, you’ll begin therapeutic exercises to improve range of motion and flexibility in the joint. Weight-bearing activities will be reintroduced slowly to give your new joint time to adjust. Many patients are back to normal walking and standing within a month to six weeks after their surgery.

When total ankle replacement makes sense

Ankle replacement surgery is typically only considered after other options — such as therapy, bracing, custom orthopedics, and medication — have proven to be ineffective. Dr. Frazier evaluates every patient’s needs and medical condition individually to ensure surgery is a viable and appropriate option. It’s also important to realize that, depending on your specific condition, you may not undergo every conservative option before surgery is recommended. For instance, if your joint is in very bad shape, some conservative options might not make sense. Dr. Frazier will be able to determine which presurgical treatments are appropriate based on your evaluation and exam.

Generally speaking, the ideal candidate for TAR is someone who:

Some types of medication or medical treatments may impair healing or increase your risk of infection following surgery; therefore, it’s very important to be sure to let Dr. Frazier know about any medication you take, including over-the-counter supplements, as well as any other medical care you’re receiving. During your initial visit, you’ll be asked to provide a detailed personal and family medical history to help identify any other potential risks.

Relieve your chronic ankle pain

Ankle dysfunction can take a major toll on your physical and emotional health and well-being. At The Frazier Foot and Ankle Clinic, we offer state-of-the-art treatments aimed at relieving ankle pain, regardless of the underlying cause. To learn more about the options that can help you restore pain-free movement, book an appointment online today.

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