If you have severe arthritis in your ankle, an ankle arthrodesis should reduce your pain and allow you to do more of your normal activities.

What does the operation involve?

Your surgeon will remove the damaged joint surfaces. They will then fix the bones together with a metal plate, a metal rod, or screws.

The operation usually takes between an hour and an hour and a half. A variety of anaesthetic techniques is possible. You should be able to go home after one to three days.

Make an enquiry

How soon will I recover?

To start with, you should spend most of the time with your leg raised on a chair or footstool. Most people need to have the plaster cast for about twelve weeks. You will need to use crutches or sticks until it is removed.

Once the plaster cast is removed, regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Are there any alternatives to Ankle Arthrodesis?

  • Simple painkillers such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen can help control the pain of arthritis. Supplements to your diet may also help relieve your symptoms. You should check with your doctor before you take supplements.
  • Using a walking stick can make walking easier.
  • A plastic splint or a stiff ankle boot with a cushioned heel is sometimes helpful.
  • A steroid injection into your ankle joint can sometimes reduce pain and stiffness.
  • Physiotherapy may help to strengthen weak muscles. 
  • A keyhole operation (arthroscopy) to clean out the ankle joint can give some relief for six to twelve months.

All these measures become less effective if your arthritis gets worse and some people with ankle arthritis may have an ankle replacement.

No hospital waiting lists

As a private patient at The Horder Centre you can get faster access to the very best orthopaedic consultants.

Find out more

What complications can happen?

General complications
• Pain
• Bleeding
• Infection of the surgical site (wound)
• Unsightly scarring
• Blood clots
• Difficulty passing urine

Specific complications
• Damage to nerves
• Infection in the ankle
• Failure of the arthrodesis
• Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the foot and ankle (complex regional pain syndrome)
• Breakdown of the skin over your ankle. You may need a skin graft.

Information leaflet

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Download leaflet

Mr Stephen Milner DM FRCS (Tr. & Orth.)
Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com
Copyright © 2019 EIDO Healthcare Limited
The operation and treatment information on this webpage is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by the Horder Centre. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Outstanding services for all patients

Get referred to Horder Healthcare today

Horder Healthcare provides the highest quality services to NHS, privately insured and self pay patients, from initial consultation and diagnostic tests right through to surgical treatment and rehabilitation.

We are a charity

We reinvest our profit to benefit more people and help us achieve our aim of advancing health.