Ankle Fusion Surgery. The goal of ankle arthrodesis (also commonly known as ankle fusion) is to relieve pain and maintain or improve function for a patient with ankle arthritis.
Ankle fusion is the surgical removal of the cartilage portion of the joint and diseased bone and fusing (growing) of the bones together into one unit.
Good cartilage normally forms the joint and allows for essentially pain free motion between bones. Damaged and/or diseased cartilage can allow some motion but this motion can be quite painful and disabling.
Ankle fusion surgery is often the last resort to restore mobility and range of motion in an ankle joint, that is basically worn down. In some cases, this wearing down is caused by arthritis in a condition called degenerative arthritis.
Also known as ankle arthrodesis, ankle fusion therapy may help restore function and mobility to those experiencing difficulty walking or performing daily living activities.
Ankle fusions are performed to eliminate pain, improve ambulation (walking), and to improve the quality of life. Typically conservative options are first attempted. These conservative treatments consist of treating the arthritis pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and analgesics are used. Corticosteroid infiltrations can be tried. Physical therapy is attempted. Bracing with ankle braces or ankle foot type orthosis is used to try and immobilize the arthritic joint. Occasionally immobilization in a cast or cam-walker cast is tried. Sometimes the ankle joint has arthroscopy (scope procedures) or arthrotomy (opening and cleaning) procedures are performed in an attempt to repair or remove arthritic joint cartilage or bone. If these treatments prove unsuccessful ankle fusion is performed.
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