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Ankle fusion or ankle arthrodesis is a procedure that fuses the bones of the ankle joint. These bones include the tibia, fibula, and the talus. Candidates for this type of procedure are individuals who have ankle arthritis. Arthritis is a condition that leads to the degeneration of the cartilage tissues between bones, and this results in pain, loss of range of motion, and discomfort. Ankle fusion hopes to minimize the pain caused by arthritis by fusing the bones of this joint together. In consequence, this procedure will reduce an individual's range of motion and flexibility.
If pain still persists in an arthritic ankle after non-surgical methods like steroid injections and pain medications are explored, it may be necessary to perform ankle arthrodesis. While ankle arthrodesis may provide limited or permanent relief from ankle related pain, it does not reverse arthritis.
What to expect with ankle fusion
Some indicators that an individual may need an ankle fusion :
- Continual need of pain medications
- Pain while walking
- Assisted walking (canes)
- Special footwear
- Limited ability to walk
Some indicators that an individual should avoid ankle fusion :
- Poor bone health
- Medical conditions that decrease healing or recovery
- Medical conditions that increase surgical risk
After this procedure takes place, it usually takes 6-8 weeks to ensure that the bones are fused together, and can take as long as up till 10-12 weeks. After this period of time, weight bearing activities can resume. During this period of time, patients typically do not place any weight on their operated leg.