Total Ankle Replacement

Campbell Clinic has performed major surgical procedures on the foot and ankle, including total ankle replacement and ankle fusions, in its outpatient surgery center for more than three years.

When these procedures are performed in a hospital setting, a patient typically requires a two or three night stay in the facility. A Campbell Clinic surgery center enables patients to go home on the same day of their surgery, and outpatient ankle surgery often allows for better pain management for the patient.

Is Total Ankle Replacement Right for Me?

Patients who experience significant pain in their ankles along with limited mobility who do not respond to conservative treatment may consult their surgeons and consider total ankle replacement. Physical therapy, activity modification, diet and weight management, and anti-inflammatory medication may help patients manage pain without the need for surgery. For all other patients, surgery may be a viable option.

During a total ankle replacement, the ankle is approached from the front or side by the surgeon, and metal and plastic components that re-create the ankle joint are implanted. Some patients may also need to have their calf muscles or Achilles tendons lengthened to improve range of motion after the surgery, if those parts of the ankles or legs are tight. After the wounds are closed, a patient’s foot and ankle are typically immobilized for a period of time after the surgery to allow the joint to heal. The patient is not able to bear weight during this time.

Additional Ankle Replacement FAQs

Physical therapy goals in ankle replacement rehabilitation focus on: flexibility, weight-bearing, range of motion, endurance, balance, and strengthening. The rehab procedures involved might include the utilization of soft-tissue mobilization, kinesiology taping, manual therapy, and other techniques. You can expect to use tools like a stationary bike and specialized weights throughout the process, but the ways in which these are used will differ at different stages for different individuals.

Ankle replacement surgery is very successful in most cases.

Although every case might vary slightly, the average surgery is approximately 2 hours.

For the first six weeks following surgery, the ankle will be placed in a plaster cast. Rehab will not start until 14 days following surgery. During the initial 1-6 weeks, the goals are to prevent weight-bearing movement on your ankle, to increase range of motion in the ankle, to learn how to do daily activities with a crutch/walker, and to maintain the strength of the knees, hips and core muscle. Week 6-10 the ankle can begin to handle weight-bearing exercises. The objective is to reduce ankle swelling, begin normalizing walking patterns, increase scar mobility, and progress weight-bearing as tolerated in a boot. More standing exercises and mobilization techniques will be included during this period. Weeks 10-14, in conjunction with the surgeon and as tolerated by the patient we will begin to wean off the support boot and into an ankle brace. Exercises will become progressively more challenging and phasing into functionality. Weeks 14-16, usually around this time patients should begin trying to wear normal shoes while continuing to increase weight-bearing exercise as tolerated. After 16 weeks, patients can usually return to sedentary jobs and start slowly easing themselves back into normal activities like walking and biking.

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