July 7, 2017

Do I need a total ankle replacement?

Foot and Ankle | Total Joint Replacement


Total ankle replacement surgery, also known as a total ankle arthroplasty, is used to treat ankle arthritis. This is an alternative to an ankle fusion.  The operation can relieve pain and maintain motion in the ankle joint.


The ankle joint is made up of the two bones of the lower leg (tibia and fibula) and the first bone in the foot (talus). Cartilage covers the ends of the bones in the joint and allows the bones to move smoothly.

However, the ankle joint cartilage can wear away causing pain and stiffness.

What are the types of ankle injuries?

  • Osteoarthritis: Results from gradual wearing away of the cartilage and is the most common form of arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: A chronic inflammatory disease of the joints that results in pain, stiffness and swelling. Usually affects several joints of the body.
  • Injury: Arthritis can arise following ankle injuries such as sprains and fractures.
  • Infection

How do you diagnose an ankle injury?

To determine whether you need an ankle replacement, your physician will ask you for a complete medical history including your current symptoms, past treatment methods, as well as your medical history and conduct a physical examination. X-rays are typically performed to assess with the evaluation. Sometimes other tests such as a CT scan or MRI  scan may be needed.

Make an appointment with an foot and ankle specialist at OrthoIndy

Total ankle replacement surgery

Prior to having an ankle arthroplasty nonsurgical treatment is typically attempted. This may include medications such as anti-inflammatory medicines, cortisone injections, physical therapy, activity modification and bracing.  Most insurance companies require at least six months of failed treatment before undergoing surgery.

During a total ankle replacement the damaged parts of the ankle bones are replaced with a prosthesis (artificial component). There are several types of ankle replacements and the components come in different sizes. Your physician will determine the best option for you.

How do you recover from a total ankle replacement?

A patient will stay one to three nights in the hospital after surgery. Strict elevation for many days after the procedure is necessary to control swelling and improve wound healing. Because most components require bone ingrowth into the prosthesis, it is necessary to stay non-weight bearing for four to six weeks after surgery.

During this time patients are typically in a splint or cast. After that time, patients are usually placed into a walking boot and given exercises and stretches to help regain ankle strength and motion. Physical therapy is also usually initiated once weight bearing is allowed.
The Ultimate Guide to Foot and Ankle Injuries

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000
Megan Golden

By Megan Golden

Megan Golden worked at OrthoIndy from 2012 to 2019, where she wrote a variety of content for our blog, magazines and inbound campaigns. Megan graduated from Ball State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising and communications studies minor.

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