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Total Ankle Replacement: All Your Questions Answered

Total Ankle Replacement, The Frazier Foot and Ankle Center

If you’ve been told you need total ankle arthroplasty, or a total ankle replacement, you probably have lots of questions. This major surgery is usually called for if you have arthritis as a result of aging, genetics, or a past injury such as a fracture or dislocation.

The goal of total ankle replacement surgery is to relieve your pain and restore function so you can do more of the activities you love. At The Frazier Foot and Ankle Center, we want you to completely understand what’s involved in the procedure so you can comfortably undergo surgery.

Any time you enter the operating room, it can cause stress and apprehension — we want to ease your concerns.

Who is a candidate for a total ankle replacement?

Usually, total ankle replacement surgery is only recommended once more conservative treatments, including anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and injections, have failed.

Total ankle replacement helps you regain motion at the joint so you can function more normally.

What should I expect during a total ankle replacement?

When undergoing the surgery, you receive either general anesthesia or a nerve block. Dr. Michael J. Frazier uses a front or side approach to make the incision, cut the bone, and implant appropriate metal and plastic components to replace the degenerated joint parts. If you need additional adjustments to the joint, Dr. Frazier also performs them at this point.

He then closes the incision with staples or stitches and applies a splint. You are fitted with a cast or cast boot following surgery to keep your ankle stable and allow the implants to heal.

What is it like to recover from ankle surgery?

You will likely spend a one or a few nights in the hospital. The ankle should be kept elevated to prevent swelling and improve the healing process for several days after surgery. You’ll also need to keep all weight off of the affected ankle.

Once you go home and Dr. Frazier has indicated you’re ready, you undergo gentle physical therapy to encourage range of motion. These first exercises are not weight-bearing. Only after a few weeks do you start to put weight on the replacement ankle.

What is the difference between an ankle replacement and ankle fusion?

Ankle fusion also aims to reduce pain and improve function in arthritic ankles, but it involves fusing the ankle bones together into one unit to eliminate the joint motion that causes pain at the arthritic joint. Fusion limits your range of motion, however, and affects your abilities following surgery.

An ankle replacement, on the other hand, preserves your ankle and allows it to move as designed. This protects surrounding joints from increased wear. Newer technology makes ankle replacement surgery more successful, effective, and expedient than ever.


If you have serious ankle pain and dysfunction as a result of arthritis, call us at The Frazier Foot and Ankle Center. We can help with conservative interventions and recommendations. If you should need surgery, you can trust Dr. Frazier’s expertise and experience. Call the office or book an appointment on this website.

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