A total ankle replacement is a surgical treatment that aims to relieve chronic pain and restore normal range of motion, basic stability, and full functionality to a damaged ankle joint that’s been severely compromised by advanced arthritis.
Also known as total ankle arthroplasty, this comprehensive solution is often considered when the effects of severe ankle arthritis become increasingly persistent and limiting.
“Should I consider an artificial ankle joint?” It’s a question our skilled team of board-certified podiatrists at Ohio Foot and Ankle Center in Canton, Stow, and Rittman, Ohio, hear often. Here, Dr. Aaron Chokan and Dr. Jon Moss explore five telltale signs that indicate you may be a good candidate for a total ankle replacement.
1. Conservative treatments don’t help
Whether your ankle is affected by degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis), rheumatoid arthritis, or injury-induced arthritis, conservative treatment measures are always the first line of defense. This may include any combination of:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Activity modification and rest
- Ankle bracing; custom orthotics
- Physical therapy exercise and stretches
- Anti-inflammatory joint injections
When these tried-and-true strategies are no longer effective at reducing swelling, relieving pain, or helping you maintain normal range of motion and stability, a total ankle replacement may be your next best option.
2. Your ankle pain makes you less active
Living with arthritis pain and stiffness can interfere with your busy life, making you less likely to engage in activities that might exacerbate your pain and leave you out of commission for longer than you’d like.
If your ankle pain, stiffness, and instability don’t improve enough with rest and conservative care, and if your symptoms frequently interfere with your ability to perform routine daily tasks — or your ability to engage in physical activities you’d otherwise be up for — it may be time to think about ankle replacement surgery.
3. Extreme stiffness limits your mobility
If you’ve been successfully managing your ankle arthritis symptoms for years, chances are you know exactly which physical therapy stretches and exercises can help you alleviate the ongoing joint pain and stiffness that can limit your mobility. But what if those exercises and stretches are no longer as helpful as they once were?
If you find yourself struggling with an increasingly stiff ankle despite your best efforts, there may not be much you can actively do to improve or maintain the supporting structures of your ankle. In such cases, ankle replacement surgery may be warranted.
4. Ankle instability affects your balance
When arthritis damages the various structures of your ankle joint, it can make you less stable on your feet. Properly resting, stretching, and strengthening your joint can help, as can wearing a supportive ankle brace when you’re active and require reinforced joint stability.
When conservative care no longer helps you maintain the kind of ankle stability you require to stay balanced and remain active — or simply walk without fear of falling — ankle replacement surgery may be the best solution for you.
5. You have ankle pain even when resting
Arthritis-related ankle pain usually feels worse when you overuse your joint, and at such times, rest is usually the ticket to relief. But if your ankle always hurts, even when you’re resting, and especially if it routinely wakes you at night, it could be a sign that you should consider a total ankle replacement.
Ease ankle pain and restore your mobility
If you’re facing a total ankle replacement, there’s no need for concern — an artificial ankle joint can restore full function and pain-free movement, whether you suffer from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or injury-induced arthritis.
A total ankle replacement doesn’t just help you put an end to chronic joint pain, stiffness, and instability; it also eliminates your need for pain medication and assistive devices.
When you’ve lived with arthritis-related ankle pain, stiffness, and instability for years, it can be hard to tell when it may be time to consider total joint replacement. Our team at Ohio Foot and Ankle Center can help. Call or click online today to schedule a visit at your nearest location in Canton, Stow, and Rittman, Ohio.