Ankle Arthritis Surgery

The ankle is a complex joint that transmits the body forces via the lower limb to the foot by acting as a mobile adaptor and a lever arm. Ankle arthritis can occur following wear and tear or as a result of sport injury or trauma. This results in gradual thinning of the cartilage as well as bone spurs that cause catching, locking and pain. Long term instability following a twisting ankle injury can tear or injure the ligaments resulting in long term arthritic changes.

Ankle arthritis may be experienced as early morning pain in the early stages followed by swelling at the end of the day. Any physical activity often gradually becomes painful followed by increasing stiffness and limping.

Ankle Arthritis Diagnosis:

Our specialists will take a detailed history and carry out a thorough examination, taking into account any history of injury and possible impact on activities of daily living and quality of life.

Medical imaging may be helpful and could include X-rays with or without stressing the ankle and sometimes a dye may be injected to evaluate capsule tears, known as an arthrogram. MRI and Ultrasound are used to evaluate tendon tears, ligament tears and cartilage problems such as osteochondral defects, which are holes in the cartilage surface.

Injection Treatment, Braces & Physiotherapy:

We would usually recommend trying non-surgical treatments in the first instance. Our ankle specialists will formulate a tailored plan for your rehab. This is usually a combination of cortisone injections or hyaluronic acid (naturally occurring joint lubricant) to reduce the swelling and improve mobility, as well as protection with an aircast boot or a brace for a short period.

Our physiotherapist will formulate a specialist rehabilitation programme to strengthen your ankle and improve stability.

Ankle Arthritis Surgery:

Below are some of the common surgical procedures used to treat Ankle Arthritis.

  • Ankle Arthroscopy: This is performed via 2-3 small incisions to visualise inside the ankle with specialised camera and instruments. This is followed by repair of any cartilage damage, removal of bone spurs and fixation of ligaments
  • Ankle Ligament Repair: We perform ligament repairs using bone anchors to ensure that they are anatomically restored to normality. This ensures that you have improved stability following the procedure.

Ankle Fusion and Replacement: This is reserved for advanced arthritis and severe cartilage damage. The ankle is either fused and fixed to reduce movement and therefore pain or replaced with an artificial joint.