An ankle replacement as the name implies is a procedure for ankle arthritis when the ankle joint has worn out all of its cartilage resulting in a painful and stiff ankle and greatly impacts the patient’s activities of daily living.
In order to replace the ankle joint the tibial plafond (shin bone) and the talus (ankle bone) need to be removed and replaced with a mechanical orthopaedic implant.
The tibial component is often a combination of specialised metal (trabecular metal) and plastic (polyethylene) and the talus component steel alloy.
It is important to realise that this is a mechanical moving part and specifically designed for low demand patients and is not suitable as a result for young patients is the average life span of a total ankle replacement is approximately 15-20 years.
In the very and this would require multiple surgeries every 15 – 20 years and hence is not feasible and an ankle arthrodesis (fusion) is more suitable and can at a later stage be converted to a total ankle replacement once day-to-day physical requirements decrease.
You may drive by about 4 weeks if it is your left foot that has been operated on and you drive an automatic transmission vehicle. If you have surgery on the right foot it is not easy nor safe to drive with the boot and you may need to make alternative plans to drive for 6 weeks plus…
For many individuals, a return to an active lifestyle is our goal following this surgery.
For some, this may mean the ability to walk without pain, and for others, a more regular exercise routine may be more important. Regular exercise in a gym is always to be encouraged, and the use of all machines including a stationary bicycle, treadmill, stair climber, and elliptical machines are excellent to regain strength and movement of the ankle.
It is not recommended that you run. You may however engage in golf, prolonged hiking or walking, doubles tennis and bicycling, and skiing.
As noted above, swimming and cycling are excellent and will help regain the movement in the ankle.