Ankle replacement surgery is a great option for people who suffer from arthritis or some other type of ankle injury that compromises their mobility and quality of life. During the procedure, a surgeon removes damaged bone and cartilage from the ankle and replaces them with prosthetics. By replacing the artificial joint with prosthetics, patients retain the ability to move and flex their ankle joints in a natural way, to lower the risk of arthritis developing in other areas. If you are currently considering getting the procedure, here are some things you should know.
Candidates for Ankle Replacement
While rapid advances in medical technology have made artificial ankles a better treatment choice for people who suffer from ankle arthritis, they are not impervious to damage. People who are over the age of 60 are better candidates for this type of treatment, since they are less active and less likely to engage in high impact activities. People that suffer from obesity, weak joint ligaments, nerve damage, or engage in high impact activities are not good candidates for the procedure.
Choice of Sedation
If you opt to have the procedure, you can choose to have general or spinal anesthesia. General anesthesia renders you unconscious so you won’t feel or remember anything. With spinal anesthesia, you are awake, however you will not feel any sensations below your waist. Patients that choose spinal anesthesia can request additional medication to help them to relax during their procedure.
Purpose of the Procedure
Ankle replacement surgery is done to fix damaged ankle joints that severely restrict mobility and cause a great deal of pain and discomfort that cannot be managed with any other treatments. Although commonly recommended for older people who have arthritis, it can be used to treat other conditions such as fractures and infections.
Like other prosthetics devices, ankle replacements do not last forever. However, most ankle prosthetics typically last upwards of 10 years, depending on the activities and health of the patient prior to, during, and after the procedure.
Components of Artificial Ankles
The prosthetic implants used to replace diseased and damaged joints during ankle replacement surgery are made of the same type of materials that are used for hip and knee replacement surgeries. The implants are sized to custom fit the patient to ensure optimal comfort and recovery.
Although some people regain full ankle function within 6 months of the procedure, there may be some residual swelling that lasts up to a year. After the surgery, it is very important for you to follow your recovery and physical therapy instructions to facilitate healing and reduce the risk of complications.
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