Q:

Why would someone need ankle fusion surgery?

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Quick Answer

A person may need ankle fusion surgery to relieve the symptoms of severe ankle arthritis, explains the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS). Ankle arthritis causes cartilage and joint degeneration that may lead to symptoms like pain, inability to walk properly and inflammation, reports the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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Although there can be conservative treatment for ankle arthritis, including pain medication, steroid injection into the ankle or bracing of the affected ankle, ankle fusion surgery may be an option when these measures fail to correct the problem or symptoms, relates the AOFAS.

Ankle fusion, which is also called arthrodesis, is a procedure that can be performed through incision either on the outer or front part of the ankle. In the surgery, the damaged cartilage can be scraped away from the ends of the affected bone joints. The joints are fused together with a combination of screws, pins and metal plates. Although the surgery may relieve pain and other symptoms associated with ankle arthritis, there also can be a reduction in ankle movement, states the Mayo Clinic.

Ankle fusion surgery is one type of surgical procedure for people with ankle arthritis. Some other options are ankle debridement and ankle replacement. However, a possible problem with ankle fusion surgery can be that arthritis can develop in joints near the fusion site, specifies the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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