Ankle Fusion (Arthrodesis) is a type of surgery to fuse the bones of the ankle joint into one piece, eliminating the joint itself. While your fused joint loses flexibility, it can bear weight better, is more stable, and is no longer painful. The surgery is usually done to treat arthritis in the ankle.
Arthritis can affect any joint in the foot. Over time, the smooth cartilage on the surface of the bones wears away. This results in pain, inflammation, and swelling in your joint.
The 3 main types of ankle arthritis are:
Ankle Joint Injury
An ankle joint injury may be due to the soft tissues of a ligament or tendon stretching beyond their capacity, better known as an ankle sprain or strain.
Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle
The pain and stiffness you feel in your feet and ankles as you age could be arthritis. If left untreated, this nagging pain can get worse over time, eventually making it difficult to walk even short distances.
Equinus contracture is a condition in which the upward bending motion of the ankle joint is limited, lacking the flexibility to lift the top of the foot.
Foot drop is a general term for difficulty lifting the front part of the foot, which might even drag on the ground while walking.
Osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage in one or more joints. Cartilage cushions the bones during movement.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition where the immune system attacks the joint lining tissue, causing painful inflammation and stiffness.
If you have mild or moderate arthritis, your doctor will likely advise other treatments first. These may include pain medicines, corticosteroid injections or physical therapy. You may be given special shoes or shoe inserts. If you still have severe symptoms that interfere with your daily activities, your doctor may advise an ankle fusion surgery.
Your doctor will determine the best approach based on the evaluation.
Your doctor will perform your ankle fusion by a team of specialized healthcare professionals. The whole operation may take a few hours. In general, you can expect the following: