Ankle joints can be replaced in part or full, depending on the needs of the patient. During the surgery, the damaged or degenerated parts of the joint are removed and implants made of metal alloys, ceramics, or strong plastic are placed. Due to the extensive use of the ankle, the bones and connective tissue often suffer from wear and tear and are susceptible to arthritis. Dr. Polun uses an innovative mobile bearing artificial joint when ankle replacements are necessary. The mobile bearing allows superior movement and safety for patients compared to fixed bearing options. Mobile bearing joints consist of 3 parts including a talar component which covers the lower bone of the ankle joint, a tibial plate which covers the bottom part of the tibia, and the mobile bearing which moves between the plates in providing the same motion as a natural ankle joint.
Ankle replacements are relatively common surgeries performed in the United States today. Most physicians will provide more conservative forms of treatments for ankle injuries during the early stages of care and recommend ankle replacement if those less invasive measures are not effective. Injuries to the ankle or degenerative conditions such as arthritis often lead to the need for ankle replacement. Ankle replacements are an effective treatment for patients who are unable to carry out normal day-to-day activities such as going up and down stairs, walking, or trouble sleeping due to pain. If a patient has bone-on-bone arthritis where all of the cartilage and cushion in the ankle joint has worn away, ankle replacement surgery may be the only effective treatment to provide sustainable pain relief.
Following surgery, you will follow a physical therapy regime to rebuild your strength in and around the joint. You will have regular follow-up appointments with Dr. Polun to monitor your recovery and to make sure you are healing correctly. You may need to take some pain killers during the days directly following surgery.