When ankle arthritis pain begins limiting your daily activities, causing you to lose sleep, and is not responding to other treatment alternatives, it may be time to consider ankle replacement surgery. By waiting too long, your range of motion can become severely limited, making the surgery more difficult and the results less certain. It is a good idea to discuss your condition early on with a foot and ankle surgeon, and learn about the options and timing that might be right for you.
Early recommendations for arthritis treatment may include rest, walking with a cane in the opposite hand, over the counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications, and medication for pain relief. Physical therapy may be prescribed in the early stages, although this can become less effective and even damaging as the arthritis advances. Cortisone injections can provide temporary relief of pain, although this is not generally considered a long-term solution. Occasionally, arthroscopic surgery is used to remove bone spurs and debris from the joint. When these solutions are not effective, your foot and ankle surgeon may discuss surgical alternatives with you, such as ankle fusion or ankle replacement surgery.
It is impossible to state how much motion will recover after ankle replacement. However, patients with severely restricted motion that has been present for many years may be unable to achieve full motion despite a properly performed operation and dedicated physical therapy.
Ankle replacement surgery can help you return to normal daily activities that were previously limited by the ankle disease. Even though the ankle replacement addresses the most likely pain source, other sources of pain remain in the ankle and foot. Pain is likely to be reduced but it is not always eliminated.