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Like other types of joint replacements, such as artificial hips and knees, a total ankle replacement uses metal parts with a plastic spacer in between to replace both sides of the joint.
The technology, engineering and understanding of the ankle joint have advanced considerably, and today's implants are more durable than ever. Ankle replacement offers the potential for pain relief, improved function and protection of the surrounding joints from the additional stress that comes with a joint fusion, the previous standard for treating ankle arthritis.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Ankle Replacement Surgery?
Total ankle replacements are not for everyone. Younger and very active patients may do better with a fusion because a replacement may wear out too fast. Patients with severe deformities or prior infection may also be better served with an ankle fusion in which the bones of the ankle are fused together.
At the University of Maryland, we have the expertise to give you a thorough assessment of your condition and recommend the best treatment for you. To make an appointment with one of our ankle surgeons or learn more about ankle replacement surgery, please call 410-448-6400 or request an appointment online..
What to Expect After Ankle Replacement
If your doctor determines you are a good candidate for an ankle replacement and you decide to proceed with surgery, here is what you can expect:
You will be in a splint for the first several weeks after the surgery while the incision heals. You will not be able to put any weight on the ankle replacement for approximately four weeks.
Unlike the alternative, an ankle fusion, an ankle replacement does not require the bones to heal together in order to be successful. However, it is important to give the implants a few weeks to anchor into your bone so that the new ankle is stable for you to walk on it and do physical therapy.
You will attend physical therapy two to three times per week for two months. Your therapists will help you progress your weight-bearing on the new ankle and teach you exercises to maximize the range of motion in your ankle.
Once the ankle replacement has healed, you will be able to get back to most of the activities you enjoy. However, high impact activities, like running, may shorten the lifespan of your ankle replacement implants. Walking, swimming, biking, and golfing are activities that many patients enjoy after a total ankle replacement.
You’ll continue to see your doctor annually after the procedure for follow-up and to make sure that any potential problems can be caught early.