Ankle replacement surgery, also called total ankle arthroplasty, is a procedure most commonly used to treat arthritis in the ankle. During your ankle replacement, a surgeon will remove the damaged bone and cartilage near your ankle joint. They will then replace them with a joint made of plastic and metal. Unlike ankle fusion surgeries, an ankle replacement will relieve your arthritis pain without restricting the range of motion in your joint. This decreases your risk of developing post-surgery arthritis in the joints near your ankle.
Ankle replacement surgery is a generally safe procedure with high success rates and low risk of complications. Even so, knowing as much as you can before your procedure can help make your ankle replacement surgery recovery time shorter and more comfortable. Here are 5 facts that every patient should know before they go into their ankle replacement surgery.
Ankle replacement fact #1: Success rates are promising
In fact, over 90% of ankle replacement patients went at least five years without needing additional ankle surgery, according to a 2010 study. While not as common as hip or knee replacement surgeries, the number of ankle arthroplasties has increased in recent years. This means that a growing number of surgeons are gaining experience with the procedure, which is great news for you. The success rates for ankle replacement procedures are significantly higher when the replacements are performed by experienced orthopedic surgeons, especially ones that have performed over 30 ankle replacements. Asking your surgeon how many times they’ve performed ankle replacement surgery can help you choose where to have the procedure done.
Ankle replacement fact #2: Outpatient surgery might be an option
Traditionally, ankle replacement surgeries are performed in hospitals with suggested stays of one to three days. However, an increasing number of procedures can now be performed at outpatient surgery centers. Total ankle replacement surgeries performed in outpatient settings can have the same success rates as those performed in hospitals but at much lower costs. Outpatient facilities are just as safe as hospitals and can save you money on your ankle replacement. Many factors, such as your personal health and your doctor’s recommendations, can help your physician decide whether outpatient ankle replacement surgery is a good option for you.
Ankle replacement fact #3: Full recovery can take up to six months
After your ankle replacement surgery, your ankle will be in a splint and you will need crutches to walk around. Your doctor will probably recommend not putting any weight on your ankle for at least a few weeks. Plan ahead to have someone help you with household chores, driving, and running errands for up to six weeks. It’s also a good idea to prepare your home to make your ankle replacement surgery recovery time easier. You’ll have to limit your movements after surgery. Make sure that you will have easy access to your bed, restroom, and kitchen.
You’ll probably need some physical therapy to learn how to walk on your new ankle. A physical therapist will help you to increase the range of motion in your ankle and strengthen the muscles around the joint. This process can take up to six months. Recovery times are different for everyone. Talk to your physician before your surgery for a more specific ankle replacement surgery recovery time.
Ankle replacement fact #4: You might have to change your workout plan
Just like your other joints, your ankle replacement won’t be immune to the wear and tear of repetitive, high-impact activities. The relief from your arthritis pain will probably inspire you to exercise more frequently, and that’s great! Just remember that activities such as jogging and jumping rope may put additional stress on your new joint. If you have concerns about which exercises you should do after your ankle replacement surgery, ask your physician or physical therapist for their recommendations.
Ankle replacement fact #5: Your recovery is in your hands
After your procedure, there are steps that you can take to help speed up your ankle replacement surgery recovery time. First, when you return home after your surgery, keep your ankle elevated. Use pillows to prop your ankle so that it’s raised above your heart level whenever you are resting or sleeping. This will work to keep swelling down, which can help you heal more quickly and avoid surgery complications.
When you’re able to start walking around, take it slow at first. Your new ankle joint needs time to adjust and heal. Wear your boot or splint for as long as your doctor recommends, and don’t shy away from your crutches. The stretches and exercises that you learn in physical therapy will set you on your path to walking without assistance. The more you follow your physician’s post-surgery recommendations, the faster you’ll be finished with your ankle replacement surgery recovery time and back on your feet.
How to find a fair price on your ankle replacement surgery
You should go into your ankle replacement surgery with confidence in your surgeon and your recovery. Don’t be afraid to ask for answers to your questions and concerns before your procedure, especially if you’re worried about the overall cost of your ankle replacement surgery. New Choice Health’s Orthopedic Surgery Assistance program can help you find financing options to lower the cost of your surgery. In the weeks and months following your procedure, you should be focused on regaining your ankle strength and mobility, not worrying about how you’re going to pay for the procedure. Use New Choice Health’s Patient Assist program to find an affordable cost for your ankle replacement surgery today.