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What is the recovery from ankle fusion surgery like?

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Quick Answer

Recovery for ankle fusion surgery involves wearing a cast and using crutches for several weeks and then undergoing physical therapy to regain the ability to walk smoothly, according to Houston Methodist Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Patients also need to wear special shoes to help protect and compress the feet while walking.

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Full Answer

In-patient hospital care after ankle fusion surgery generally last for a few days, but some patients may need to stay longer, states the Insall Scott Kelly Institute for Orthopedics and Sports Medicines. The patient is given intravenous fluids and medications in the hospital, and the doctors take multiple X-rays of the patient's ankle to monitor the results and check for infection or swelling. The ankle is elevated to reduce swelling. For at least a week after the surgery, the patient's mobility is limited to prevent damage to the healing ankle. The cast is removed after 12 weeks, at which time the patient is encouraged to walk frequently.

Ankle fusion surgery is performed to treat a painful ankle joint resulting from injury or degenerative arthritis. As a result of the surgery, the tibia grows as one with the talus. The patient cannot move that part of his ankle, but the fusion should last for many years, unlike an artificial ankle, asserts Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.

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