If you have advanced rheumatoid or osteoarthritis or perhaps have experienced multiple ankle sprains, you may need ankle replacement surgery. Also called ankle joint arthroplasty, this state-of-the-art procedure helps people have painless, freer movement of this important body joint.
Here are some tips for successful lifestyle adjustments after ankle replacement.
What Is Ankle Replacement Surgery?
Ankle replacement surgery is an orthopedic/podiatric procedure in which your foot and ankle doctor removes damaged joint components and installs artificial ones made from high tech materials. The bone ends of the leg bones (tibia and fibula) are resurfaced, and joint components made of polyethylene, cobalt, chrome, and other innovative materials are used to strengthen the entire structure and return the ankle to full mobility.
The surgery involves a side or front incision depending on what kind of joint prosthesis your foot and ankle doctor determines is best for your age, activity level and severity of joint damage. After healing, the new joint will be able to support your full weight, mimic natural joint motion and mobility and eliminate any pain and swelling you may have been experiencing.
Many people who have had a traumatic injury to the ankle, like a fall or car accident, or who suffer with advanced osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, qualify for ankle arthroplasty. Your primary care physician and foot and ankle specialist will review your medical history and clear you for surgery based on results of a physical examination, imaging, and bloodwork.
Together, they will work with you to create a surgical plan that is fully customized to your individual needs.
What Will My Recovery Be Like?
Recovery from ankle arthroplasty can take upwards of six to 12 weeks. However, your rehabilitation program of physical therapy will begin shortly after surgery. As you first begin rehabilitation, you will likely wear an ankle brace and ambulate with crutches. Gradually, you will advance to walking with a brace or boot as your weight-bearing capabilities improve. Your therapist will also train you in the most natural gait possible.
What Changes Should I Make After Ankle Arthroplasty?
One of the most important lifestyle changes you can make after joint arthroplasty is smoking cessation. Cigarettes rob the body of essential oxygen and nutrients and can therefore limit healing and mobility after any surgery. Your doctor may even ask you to stop smoking before your ankle replacement procedure.
It is also important to:
- Keep a healthy body weight
- Drink eight glasses of water every day–more if you have physical therapy or exercise on a particular day
- Consume a low-fat, high-fiber and protein-rich diet to control your weight and improve bone, joint and muscle health, and function
- Control your blood glucose levels if you are diabetic
As with any surgical recovery, rehabilitation and healing take time. Stick with your physical therapy and be sure to take your therapist’s advice regarding starting a regular exercise routine. People who have undergone joint replacements do well with low impact activities like walking and swimming. Be sure to avoid high impact activities, such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, and hockey.
Ankle Replacement Surgery in Massachusetts and Rhode Island
At Foot & Ankle Institute of New England, Dr. Stephen Rogers is our innovator in ankle replacement surgery. We take great pride and pleasure in seeing our arthroplasty patients heal, advance in their rehabilitation, and enjoy pain-free ankle function and mobility.
Learn more about our treatments for ankle pain, injury, and arthritis by contacting one of our locations in Dartmouth, MA, and Warwick and Middletown, RI, for an informative consultation. You may also request a visit online. We look forward to discussing your treatment goals and helping you get moving and feeling well once again.