Foot + Ankle Problems + Treatments

Hind Foot Arthritis

Type of Procedure: Outpatient or in hospital for one night
Length of Procedure: 1.5 hours
Anesthesia: General or IV sedation with a nerve block

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. It can occur at any age, and literally means “pain within a joint.” As a result, arthritis is a term used broadly to refer to a number of different conditions.

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What is Triple Arthrodesis?

This surgery fuses or glues together (arthrodesis) 3 joints of the back of the foot (triple arthrodesis). It is a very useful operation to correct various types of deformity of the foot and arthritis of the back of the foot.

This surgery does not typically affect the up and down movement (dorsiflexion and plantarflexion) of the foot and ankle.

The side to side movement (inversion and eversion) of the back of the foot will no longer be present. Usually for most patients who require the triple arthrodesis, most of this side to side movement has already been lost. The lack of this side to side movement may be noticeable when walking on uneven ground.

Screws and sometimes a plate are inserted into the heel bone to hold the joint together while the fusion occurs. Once the joint is fused the screws and plate are not necessary, but are rarely removed.

Postoperative recovery

  • No weight-bearing for a minimum of 6 weeks. This timing depends on how quickly your bone heals.
  • In order to stay off your foot, you will need to use crutches, a walker, a wheelchair or a scooter type device called a roll about.
  • There will be a hard plaster bandage applied to the leg for two weeks after surgery
  • Your first follow up visit will be at approximately 2 weeks to remove the stitches
  • We will usually apply a removable boot for you to wear at this time
  • If the surgery is on your left ankle, you should be able to drive an automatic vehicle at two weeks. If the surgery is on the right foot, you may drive between 3 and 4 weeks.
  • You may begin to walk with the boot at about 6 weeks, depending upon your level of discomfort, and the instructions given to you.
  • Physical therapy is helpful to regain the strength and movement of the ankle
  • You should plan to use a physical therapist for about 1 to 2 months
  • There will be moderate swelling of the foot, ankle and leg for about 6 months
  • You will continue to improve your strength and movement for about 1 year after the surgery
  • You can expect to have some soreness and aching for about 4 to 6 months after surgery
  • Orthotic arch supports are very helpful in this recovery process.

Specific Post Qperative Course

Day 1

  • Foot wrapped in bulky bandage and splint
  • Ice, elevate, and take pain medication
  • Expect numbness in foot 12 24 hours, then pain
  • Bloody drainage is expected
  • Do not change the bandage

Day 14

  • The dressing is changed, X-rays are taken, and a boot is applied
  • No weight bearing for 4 more weeks

6 weeks

  • The boot is removed, X-rays are taken
  • Gradual increase to full weight bearing is usually initiated

12 weeks

  • Start an exercise program
  • Orthotic arch supports are made for you
  • A stiff soled shoe is encouraged for two months