It seems nearly everybody knows someone with an artificial knee or hip. Far fewer people know that ankles can also be replaced.
If you've had a traumatic injury to the ankle, or suffer from ankle arthritis, total ankle replacement surgery—and the comprehensive rehabilitation that follows—are available from the experienced orthopaedic surgeons at Yale Medicine.
Although ankle arthritis is similar to hip and knee arthritis in terms of symptoms (pain, swelling, and stiffness), it is less common and differs in other important ways.
“Most hip and knee arthritis is considered primary arthritis, which is normal wear and tear of the joint, whereas most ankle arthritis is caused after a trauma such as a fracture or a bad sprain that may have occurred even 10 to 20 years earlier,” explains Raymond Walls, MD, a Yale Medicine orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon. “Plus, the cartilage in the ankle is thinner and slightly different in its makeup compared to cartilage in the knee or hip, which also partly explains why it doesn’t wear the same way.”
And unlike the hip and knee, the ankle is surrounded by several other joints in the foot that can compensate if the ankle is hurt and not moving properly. While this is helpful in some ways, it can be problematic in that it can mask significant deformities of the ankle, Dr. Walls says, further adding to the value in seeking care from a foot and ankle specialist.