Arthritis of your ankle is often the result of previous ankle injuries or rheumatoid arthritis. If you have severe pain, stiffness and disability, an ankle replacement should reduce your pain and give you some movement in your ankle.

Are there any alternatives to ankle replacement?

Simple painkillers such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen can help control the pain. 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 stiff ankle boot with a cushioned heel is sometimes helpful. Regular moderate exercise can help to reduce stiffness in your ankle.

A steroid injection into your ankle joint can sometimes reduce pain and stiffness.
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.
For young and active people it is often better to have an ankle arthrodesis where the ankle bones are permanently fixed together using screws. This also results in less pain from arthritis and almost normal walking.

What does the operation involve?

A variety of anaesthetic techniques is possible. The operation usually takes between an hour and an hour and a half.

Your surgeon will remove the damaged joint surfaces and replace these with an artificial joint made of metal and plastic (see figure 1).

The ankle replacement is fixed to the bone using special coatings on the metal that bond directly to the bone.

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Chest infection
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Specific complications

  • Damage to nerves
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Slow healing of the wound
  • Fracture
  • Infection in the ankle
  • Failure of the ankle replacement
  • Continued discomfort
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the foot and ankle (complex regional pain syndrome)

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

Copyright © 2018 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.