What is life like after ankle fusion surgery?


Quick Answer

It is possible to walk with an almost normal gait after ankle fusion surgery, but pain is common after the procedure has been completed. Common treatments for chronic pain from ankle fusion include anti-inflammatory medicines, cortisone shots and approaches such as prolotherapy, notes Caring Medical and Rehabilitation Services.

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Full Answer

Ankle fusion surgery causes the shinbone, or tibia, to join together with the talus, the bone resting right beneath it. The surgeon cuts on each side of the ankle, removing the bony parts on either slide to provide access to the joint. The surgeon opens the joint, takes out the joint surfaces and reshapes them when necessary to address a deformity. The surgeon then aligns the joint correctly and fixes it in place with screws. In some cases, the surgeon must add another bone into ankle fusion to fill in any gaps and for proper healing, notes Caring Medical and Rehabilitation Services.

The purpose behind the fusion procedure is to ease pain from damage to the ankle joint itself or the surrounding tendons, and it is a common surgery for people with degenerative ankle joints. Dealing with the chronic pain after the surgery is the hardest part, even for people who develop a relatively normal gait. Anti-inflammatory medicines and cortisone shots provide short-term pain relief but have their own side effects that develop over time, leading to a long-term functional loss in the ankle. Therapeutic approaches such as prolotherapy provide missing strength to the ankle in many cases, as stated by Caring Medical and Rehabilitation Services.

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