Many people think of arthritis as a degenerative condition that only affects the knees and hips. But, did you know that arthritis can seriously impact the health and function of the ankles? Fortunately, state-of-the-art ankle replacement surgeries can provide arthritis patients with natural movement and freedom from pain.
Here’s more on ankle replacement surgery, why it can be necessary, and where you can go for this surgery in Warwick & Middletown, RI, and Fall River, MA.
The Problem of Ankle Arthritis
Arthritis is a chronic musculoskeletal condition that seriously changes the ability to move effectively and comfortably. There are more than 100 kinds of arthritis, but most commonly, it develops as the result of wear and tear over many years of routine or athletic activity. Wear and tear arthritis is known as osteoarthritis or OA.
Also, many Americans develop rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, an autoimmune disease that degrades the cartilage and joint fluid. Inflammation and pain can occur in debilitating flare-ups, affecting both sides of the body at the same time. This symmetry of symptoms can, for instance, occur in both ankles, both knees, both hips, and so on.
Finally, numerous people develop arthritis after suffering a traumatic injury to the ankle joint. Fractures from sports, a fall, a car accident, or other sudden impacts can lead to OA in the ankle.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in the Ankle
Symptoms of OA in the ankle develop over time, affecting how people move and enjoy independent, full lives. It degrades the structure and function of the cartilage which covers the juncture between the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) and the talus bone in the ankle.
This cartilage actually frays, and the exposed bone ends grate on each other. Small bone spurs, or osteophytes, begin to develop in the joint, adding to the discomfort.
Specifically, symptoms include:
- Pain that progresses in severity, particularly in the morning
- Stiffness in the ankle joint
- Greatly reduced range of motion
- Poor balance and coordination
- Joint warmth
- Tenderness upon even light pressure or touch
What Does Ankle Replacement Surgery Involve?
Ankle replacement surgery–also called ankle arthroplasty– involves making an incision on either the front or the side of the ankle to access the joint and remove the damaged cartilage and bone ends. Then, the surgeon installs artificial joint components composed of metal and high-tech plastic resins.
After the ankle heals and you go through a program of rehabilitation, the new joint components will operate smoothly and comfortably. You will be able to move your ankle normally and walk with a good range of motion and balance. That means better coordination and risk of falling and sustaining other life-changing injuries.
Is an Ankle Replacement Surgery Necessary for Me?
Your foot and ankle surgeon can give you the answer to that important question during an in-office consultation. Be sure to outline your symptoms carefully, and be specific about any past injuries to your ankle–when and how they occurred and what treatment you received.
Also, your podiatrist will do imaging studies, such as X-rays, a CT scan or MRI, and other tests. These assessments will help the doctor see what damage has been done to the bone, cartilage, and connective tissues in the ankle and even determine how standing and bearing weight on the ankle reveals the extent of the arthritis and the deformity it causes.
Ankle replacement surgery helps people with serious deformities, persistent severe pain, and limited ambulation because of ankle arthritis. While physical therapy, cortisone injections, losing weight, walking boots, and other kinds of bracing can relieve some forms of OA in the ankle, many people simply do not respond well to these therapies because of the seriousness of their conditions.
If you fall into this diagnostic category, then ankle replacement surgery may be your best treatment option. Also, your doctor will consider you to be a good surgical candidate if you are in overall good health and are motivated to put time and persistence into your recovery and rehabilitation.
Ankle Replacement in Warwick & Middletown, RI, and Fall River, MA
If you have a severe ankle or foot problem and are finding an ankle replacement surgeon, visit us at the Foot & Ankle Institute of New England. We have board-certified foot and ankle surgeons specialized in providing both non-surgical and surgical treatments of foot and ankle conditions,including foot and ankle repair and joint replacement surgeries.
We also provide treatments for sports injuries, diabetic foot care, and pediatric foot care so you can live your life to the fullest.
To make a consultation and appointment with one of our surgeons, call us at our Warwick office at (401) 738-7750 and our Middletown office at (401) 217-4444 or our Fall River clinic at (508) 679-3700. You can also make an appointment or schedule a consultation through our online appointment form.