Total Ankle Replacement Surgery Explained

ankle replacement surgery smallAre you experiencing pain, bruising, swelling and inflammation in your ankle? Are these symptoms associated with a previous injury, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis? Have you tried physical therapy, bracing and medicine with no success? If so, you may be a strong candidate for total ankle replacement surgery. If not treated properly in a timely manner, the above conditions can cause the cartilage in your ankle to wear away, leading to joint damage, pain and disability. Total ankle replacement surgery is an option to treat severe ankle pain that doesn’t respond to more conservative treatments.

What Are the Benefits of This Surgery?


The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports more than 90 percent of joint replacement patients have significantly less pain and see a dramatic improvement in their ability to complete daily tasks. We at Emory Healthcare recently presented research demonstrating significant improvements in both clinical and functional parameters after ankle replacement surgery. With your doctor’s sign-off, you can expect to return to walking, golfing, swimming or biking after your recovery.

Are You a Candidate for Total Ankle Replacement?


If you have chronic, daily ankle pain that worsens over time, make an appointment to see an Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Specialist who can evaluate your ankle and help you determine your best treatment plan. You may be a candidate for total ankle replacement surgery if:

  • You have ankle pain that interferes with your daily life
  • You stick to mostly low-impact activities like walking, daily chores, swimming, etc.
  • You have advanced arthritis in your ankle joint
  • The surfaces of your ankle joints are destroyed

What Happens During & After Total Ankle Replacement Surgery?


Your orthopaedic surgeon will remove your damaged ankle joint and replace it with an artificial one (ankle prosthesis). After you undergo the surgery, you can expect to stay in the hospital for one to three days. When you return home, you may need to use crutches, a walker or a scooter for six weeks followed by progressive weight bearing in a boot for another 4-6 weeks, depending on your doctor’s recommendations. You’ll likely be advised to:

  • Rest
  • Keep your foot elevated
  • Avoid putting weight on your foot
  • Take pain medicine as prescribed

When it’s safe to bear weight on your foot, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to restore strength and range of motion to your ankle.

Most people are ready for their normal activities after three to four months, though you may need to wear a special brace or shoes to aid recovery. Depending on how severe your ankle damage was prior to the surgery, full recovery may take six months to a year.

Overall, this option offers patients more movement and mobility, as well as less stress and risk of arthritis to nearby joints, if compared to other similar treatments. Want to learn more about total ankle replacement surgery at Emory?

About Dr. Bariteau

bariteau-jasonJason Bariteau, MD, grew up in a small town just outside of Albany, New York. After completing his undergraduate degree in Biology at College of Saint Rose, he then pursued his medical degree at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. Following completion of his medical training he developed his surgical skills during his orthopedic surgery residency at Brown University. He then subsequently completed two advanced orthopedics fellowships; the first at Brown University in orthopedic trauma and the second at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas Texas under the tutelage internationally known Foot and Ankle Surgeon James W Brodsky MD. He currently resides in Atlanta, GA with his wife and three children.

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