The ankle joints are instrumental for your ability to stay mobile and independent. When medical conditions like bone fractures or arthritis cause pain in an ankle or impairs its functionality, the affected ankle will need to be treated. Our hope at Richardson Podiatry Associates is always that conservative care will be able to effectively address the problem, but sometimes ankle surgery is our professional recommendation.
Ankle Issues That May Require Surgery
Some of the ankle conditions that may require surgical procedures include:
- Ankle fractures. When a fracture is simple and the broken ends line up correctly, surgery is usually not necessary, but compound breaks are likely candidates for surgical procedures. Open fractures (where a bone fragment has pierced the skin) will definitely require it. The intention with ankle surgery is to restore stability and functionality to the joint.
- Arthritic conditions. Depending on the severity of symptoms, and if the condition is not responding to conservative care methods, we may recommend surgery to properly treat an ankle with arthritis. These surgical procedures (usually joint fusion or replacement) have a high success rate and usually achieve the results we hope to see.
- Achilles tendon rupture. Achilles tendinitis is often quite treatable with nonsurgical care, but when the tendon ruptures (tears completely) we might discuss the possibility of surgery.
Types of Ankle Surgeries
Arthroscopy is a minimally-invasive procedure where Dr. Reister uses a fiber optic camera to see what is happening inside the body on an external monitor and correct it using specialized tools attached to the probe. An advantage of using this type of surgery is that it only requires a small incision. This eliminates most of the difficulties (including patient pain and potential infection risk) that can accompany making a larger cut.
Of course, sometimes we need to use a more traditional procedure known as open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) that is more invasive than arthroscopy, but is necessary for setting fractured bones back into place. The larger incision is needed to better view the entire broken bone. It also allows fractured pieces to be placed into the proper position and secured with the use of metal screws and/or plates.
For arthritic conditions, some of the surgical procedures we can use include joint fusion and joint replacement. In ankle fusion, we can use plates, screws, pins, and bone grafts to permanently connect the bones that make up the ankle joint. This type of procedure helps to eliminate pain that arises from bone-on-bone grinding in a joint, but it does take away some joint mobility.
A joint replacement, on the other hand, uses metal and plastic components that recreate the functionality of the natural ankle joint. Depending on the patient, we may need to lengthen a tight Achilles tendon to improve range of motion.
Recovering from Ankle Surgery
The recovery process from the surgery will often begin with immobilizing the joint. To achieve this, we may use a removable boot or cast to stabilize the affected region. Elevation is an instrumental component of recovery for controlling swelling and pain. Bodyweight can slowly be placed on the repaired foot and ankle over time, during which period we may have you perform exercises to assist in recovery. Every case is a bit different, but normal activities might be resumed anywhere within the timeframe of a couple of months up to one year following the procedure.
Ankle Surgery at Richardson Podiatry Associates
We know that opting for surgery is not always an easy decision, but you can take comfort in the fact that we will have attempted every conservative option first. Even better, you will know that you have an experienced, skilled foot surgeon in Dr. Gene Reister who is performing your procedure.
Whether your foot or ankle condition can be improved by conservative methods or needs a procedure for full healing, Richardson Podiatry Associates is committed to improving the situation and restoring your health. Call us today at (972) 690-5374 to find out more about the services we offer that could provide the relief you need. You can also schedule your appointment with our Richardson, TX office through our simple online form.