Osteoarthritis / Arthritis
Arthritis or osteoarthritis is an ankle joint disease caused by the progressive loss of cartilage due to injury, infection, a rheumatoid disease an axis deviation or age. Very often ankle joint arthritis is the consequence of a trauma / a fracture to the ankle joint. Another frequent reason is untreated chronic instability of the ankle joint. All these conditions lead consequent loss of cartilage within the joint.
Arthritis causes pain within the ankle joint when putting load on it and later also pain while resting. The level of pain can vary and is dependent on the degree of arthritis and for some patients also weather dependent. Typically the first steps in the morning or the first steps after rest during the day are especially painful. Swelling of the ankle is another typical symptom of ankle arthritis. Very often with time the ankle joint becomes stiffer meaning that movement is restricted.
If conservative treatment with a special shoe, injections (hyaluronic acid, corticosteroids), physiotherapy have not helped you a surgical procedure can help you to walk pain-free.
In case of deformity and mild osteoarthritis an arthroscopy will be applied to remove the pain causing bone spurs. Additionally the alignment of the foot and ankle can be improved with corrective bone surgery.
For high grade ankle osteoarthritis there are two different surgical methods: arthrodesis (fusion) and total ankle replacement.
In ankle arthrodesis the three bones of the ankle joint are fused together eliminating the joint, which, in most cases already has a very limited range of motion due to arthritis or deformity before surgery . The fusion will be done in a position that allows you to walk with only mild restrictions. After surgery you are applied a cast for eight weeks that allows your bones to solidly grow together.
The other option for high grade ankle osteoarthritis is a total ankle replacement. The ankle replacement is composed of two metal and one polyethylen inlay that allows motion of the ankle joint. After surgery you will be applied a cast / walker boot that allows your bone to grow into the porous coated surface of the metal parts of the prosthesis.