Ankle arthritis is a condition in which your ankle swells and becomes painful when you move. In the long run, it may lead to difficulty in walking, loss of ankle joint function, and even deformity. Nonsurgical treatment, which includes the use of support braces and pain medication, only works for mild cases. For a severe case of ankle arthritis, you may be advised to have either of these surgical treatments:

Ankle Fusion

Ankle fusion, which is also called ankle arthrodesis, involves removing your damaged ankle joint and fusing together two adjacent ankle bones, the talus, and the tibia. Ankle fusion gets rid of the pain, but it also makes your ankle stiff.  Therefore, you are only a good candidate for the surgery if your other joints are operational enough to help you with your mobility.

After the surgery, your foot remains at right angles to your leg (the normal position of the leg and foot while standing up).  The bones are held together using screws, and you have to wear a cast for support while the two bones fuse.  The fixed joint doesn't hinder walking; in fact, it makes it more comfortable, but your podiatrist is likely to warn you against running with a fused ankle joint.

Total Ankle Replacement

In this case, your ankle joint is removed, and the ends of the adjacent bones are replaced with artificial ends. The common materials are metal or plastic, and it is an improvement over ankle fusion because it allows ankle mobility after the surgery.

Although ankle replacement (also called arthroplasty) allows you to move your ankle, it doesn't last as long as ankle fusion surgery. Most people who take the replacement option tend to enjoy a pain-free ankle joint for 10 to 15 years, after which problems related to progressive arthritis may commence.

Also, note that ankle fusion becomes complicated (but not impossible) after a replacement failure. In most cases, you have to undergo a bone graft first to replace the original bones that were removed. If you have an artificial ankle joint, then you should expect that it is failing if it begins to swell, feel numb or tingle. Other symptoms include foul-smelling discharge and low or elevated temperatures.

It is important to follow all your podiatrist's post-surgical instructions to the latter. For example, you may be given some physical exercises to perform to help your foot heal properly, and you also need to restrict your movement while you recover. If you're looking for a podiatrist in your area, visit East Village Foot Center PC.