Your ankles are vital for movement, giving your foot the motion it needs to push off the ground and keep you balanced. The joint allows your feet to both point and flex as well as twist side to side. However, the joint is also susceptible to injuries—some of which can be very serious. Conservative therapy can help many of these problems, but if noninvasive methods fail, ankle surgery may be the best next step.
Your Complex Joints
You ankles are complex parts of your lower limbs. The main joint called the ankle is formed where the talus bone and your two lower leg bones, the tibia and fibula, meet. Their shape and position mean your foot can point and flex as you need. You have a second joint, called the subtalar joint, that provides side-to-side motion. It’s situated underneath the talus, where it rests on top of your heel bone. Between these two, your foot is able to rotate completely. That way you are able to push off the ground, adjust to uneven surfaces, and maintain your balance.
When Trouble Hits
Many different problems can impact the ankles and limit your mobility, including fractures, sprains, tendonitis and arthritis. Ankle surgery is generally a last-resort option for dealing with joint issues. Most of these conditions can be managed or corrected using conservative treatments. Some injuries and chronic problems do not respond to these noninvasive measures, though. That’s when surgery becomes an option.
There are many different types of surgery for the ankle, each doing something slightly different to address the many issues that can impact your lower limbs. Serious fractures may need to have the bones surgically realigned and pinned in place to heal correctly. Some sprains and chronic ankle instability may need soft tissue repairs to relieve discomfort and prevent re-injury in the future. Arthritis progressively degenerates joints, but some ankle surgeries can repair the damaged tissues, prevent the problem from worsening, or even replace the joint altogether.
Types of Procedures
Any invasive procedure is a big step and involves a degree of risk, so our team at Martin Foot and Ankle will carefully evaluate your ankle to determine if you really need the surgery. We will examine your condition and consider what other methods have been tried. If you would benefit from surgery, our podiatry team will determine what kind of procedure would be best for your unique needs:
Connector Repairs: These procedures help tighten or repair loose or torn ligaments which connect bone to bone. This helps stabilize the ankle, which may have become weakened and unsteady after repeated or serious sprains.
Tendonitis: These procedures address tendons which connect muscle to bone. Cleaning inflammation or repairing torn tendons can relieve pain and strengthen the ankles.
Fracture Procedures: Sometimes broken bones dislocate from their normal positions and have to be realigned to heal. Not all bones will stay in the proper place, however, complicating the recovery process. Surgery can screw or pin the pieces in the correct place while you heal.
Joint Replacements: Severe breakdown in the joint tissues can make your ankle almost impossible to use. Replacing the damaged areas with artificial pieces can relieve the pain and keep your joint moveable.
Fusion: Advanced damage from arthritis may not be reparable. In those cases, fusion may be best. The damaged tissue is removed and the bones are fused together. This eliminates the issue and the discomfort.
There are many different ankle surgeries to address the many types of ankle issues. If your joint hurts and isn’t recovering with traditional conservative care, you may need to consider a surgical solution. Let our highly-experienced podiatrists and physical therapists at Martin Foot and Ankle help you navigate this stage of healing. You can reach our Hanover, York, Lititz and Lancaster, PA, offices for an appointment by calling (717) 757-3537 or by using our online contact form.