Ankle Arthritis – Ankle Fusion

What is it: Ankle arthritis is a painful degenerative condition of the ankle. Common causes are age related degeneration known as osteoarthritis, post traumatic arthritis and inflammatory arthritis. It produces a stiff and painful ankle which can make walking and other daily activities difficult.

Management: Ankle arthritis can be treated nonoperatively or operatively. Dr Unsworth-Smith will assess and diagnose your arthritis and decide whether surgery is an option for you. Nonoperative management includes pan relieving medication, alterations in foot wear and ankle braces.

Surgery options depend on symptoms as well as overall alignment of the leg. In end stage arthritis the two surgical options include Ankle Fusion or Ankle Replacement. A thorough assessment is required to decide which operation is correct operation for you.

Ankle fusion is a very effective way to relieve the pain of ankle arthritis. Ankle fusion involves joining the two main bones of the ankle (the tibia and the talus together). After an ankle fusion, most patients are able to walk without a limp and have minimal pain. Ankle fusion involves a surgical approach to the ankle with the surfaces of the ankle prepared by removing the cartilage on each side of the joint. The joint is then secured with 2 screws and sometimes the addition of a plate. The aim of the surgery to provide a painless stiff ankle joint.

Postoperatively: Patients often require 1-2 nights in hospital. You will have an nerve block (local anaesthetic to numb the ankle) which will help control pain after the surgery. You will be placed in a plaster for 2 weeks initially. At this stage the wound will be reviewed. You will then be placed into a boot for another 4 weeks. At the end of your first 6 weeks you will be placed in a walking boot with progressive weight bearing

Return to most activities will be between 4-6 months with full recovery by 12 months.