What is Ankle Fusion (Ankle Arthrodesis)?
Ankle fusion is a type of surgery done to fuse the bones of your ankle into one piece. This procedure is considered only when your ankle joint has been completely worn down. This could be due to a variety of things including a severe ankle fracture or degenerative arthritis in the joint itself. An ankle injury, several years down the road can wear out the joint and it can become quite difficult to move it freely as you have before.
This procedure basically removes the joint and allows your tibia to grow together with your foot bone. It removes the joint completely providing a remedy for pain relief.
For most of us walking or running (except for the elderly) is a given. We usually take it for granted. But at times, because of an ankle injury or arthritis that has taken over the ankle joint…. something as simple as walking to the mailbox or even to your kitchen can become a difficult thing to do.
Pain of the ankle or foot directly affects our mobility and may also restrict our activities of daily living. Severe Arthritis is many a times the cause for this and may require corrective surgery for treating the condition.
When this happens, you can consider a procedure called Ankle Arthrodesis a.k.a. Ankle Fusion, to help get the movement back that you’re used to.
What should you expect with this procedure?
You and your doctor will decide if this procedure is right for you. The ankle fusion is a great choice for those who are younger and are very active as it will not wear out like an ankle joint replacement could.
Once you’ve been cleared for surgery your doctor will discuss with you whether an open procedure or arthroscopic procedure is best in your situation. They will also update you of any risks and answer any questions you may have.
Like every surgery, Ankle Fusion also has its fair share of risks involved. Such as –
- Damage to surrounding nerves
- Bleeding & Blood clot
- Misalignment or improper joints during the procedure
- New Arthritis in nearby joints
What happens after Ankle Fusion Surgery?
A stay in the hospital will be likely for a few days depending on your condition. You will leave the hospital in a cast and in around two weeks that one will be changed to a shorter cast.
You cannot put weight on your ankle itself until the bones are fusing properly as they should be. After the procedure, it could take up to 12-weeks afterwards for that to be certain. For the best reduction of pain after Ankle Arthrodesis, it is advised that you keep your ankle elevated above your chest and propped up on pillows to reduce the swelling and throbbing.
Be prepared for rehabilitation time frame to go through and running “normally” will not be possible in the future. However, with inserts available for shoes nowadays and with rehab, you can begin to walk with a normal gait as you did before.
If you’re suffering from a large amount of ankle/foot pain due to arthritis or injury, Ankle Fusion may be an option for pain relief. Consult with your physician to be sure you know the ins and outs of this procedure and to help decide if it’s the route to go for you.