The arthritic condition, in any joint, results in uncomfortable swelling and stiffness. Because the ankle is such a small joint, and because it is also a weight-bearing joint, the symptoms of arthritis are often exaggerated compared to other areas of the body. When we walk, the ankle joint absorbs our entire body-weight. If arthritis is present, every step could be excruciatingly painful. Now, innovations in ankle replacement are giving new hope for pain free mobility in patients with arthritic ankles.
What Causes Arthritis in the Ankle
According to experts, the arthritic condition in the ankle joint often occurs as a consequence of an injury. Degenerative joint disease, mechanical instability, rheumatoid arthritis, and other conditions could also instigate this problem. Whatever causes the chronic degeneration and inflammation in joint cartilage, once this structure is lost, it cannot regenerate.
Treating Arthritic Ankles
Typically, the front-line treatment for ankle arthritis is some type of bracing. This often coincides with modifications to routine activities and treatments for pain and inflammation, such as cortisone injections. In the past, if more conservative care was unsuccessful, the surgical solution to arthritis in the ankle was to fuse the joint. Ankle fusion joins the bones in this structure to improve stability and put an end to pain. However, this surgery also affects the patient’s gate, or mechanical function of walking, due to the lack of movement in that joint. What physicians are now working on is a total ankle replacement.
If you’re in the field of orthopedics, you are probably saying “this is not new!.” Right. Ankle replacement surgery has been around for some time. The problem is that the standard procedure that has been taught has failed to provide acceptable results. The primary reason has been that, due to the complexity of the ankle joint, it has been incredibly difficult to design a suitable implant.
The new technology being used for ankle replacement includes CT imaging to guide the design process. So far, this seems to be enhancing results in terms of resistance to wear and the support of normal ankle motions. CT visualization also facilitates the accurate placement of the implant into the ankle in a shorter procedure which mitigates the risks of anesthesia.
Advances in orthopedic medicine can make a world of difference to patient outcomes. Med Ed Labs is dedicated to medical education which supports that. For information on our services, call (888) 801-9444.