When nonoperative treatments for ankle arthritis fail, the surgical option of ankle arthrodesis (fusion) may be recommendable. The surgery eliminates the painful joint and locks it in place, affecting the up and down movement of the foot, eliminating about 75% of it. The amount of loss of motion from the surgery depends on how much motion has been lost due to the arthritis itself. The side to side movement (inversion and eversion) of the back of the foot is not affected by an ankle arthrodesis. Screws are inserted into the ankle joint to hold the joint together while the fusion occurs. Once the joint is fused the screws are not necessary, but are typically not removed, unless they cause any pain.
General Recovery Facts
- You will not be walking on the leg for a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks
- In order to stay off your foot, you will need to use crutches, a walker, a wheelchair or a roll about
- There will be a bulky splint applied to the leg for two weeks after surgery
- Your first follow up visit will be at approximately two weeks to remove the stitches, and a cast will be applied at that time
- We will apply a cast at this time
- If the surgery is on your left ankle, you should be able to drive an automatic vehicle at two weeks.
- You may begin to walk in the cast at about 6-8 weeks, depending upon the extent of bone healing noted on x-rays. Progression in terms of weight-bearing is dependent on your level of comfort
- There will be swelling of the foot and ankle several months
- You will continue to improve your strength for approximately one year after the surgery
Post Operative Recovery
- Foot wrapped in bulky splint
- Ice, elevate, take pain medication, and expect numbness in foot 12 24 hours
- Bloody drainage through bandage expected, but do not change bandage
- First follow up in the office, the dressing is changed
- Placed in cast and no weight bearing on the foot at all for 6 8 weeks
- Cast removed, X-rays taken
- Another cast may be applied depending on the amount of bone healing noted
Treatment of Joint Arthritis
Dr. Carreira has prepared an information sheet that details the treatment of joint arthritis.
Download Treatment of Joint Arthritis » (PDF: 294KB)