How to Prepare for Recovery Time for Total Ankle Replacement

Brian S. Winters, MD December 24th, 2014

Total ankle replacement surgery, also known as ankle arthroplasty, is the process of replacing injured ankle bones and cartilage with stronger prosthetic or artificial parts. This relatively new procedure is highly effective in reducing pain and improving mobility in ankle joints that have been severely injured through an accident or arthritis. When other methods of treating the injured  ankle have failed to produce the desired results, replacing the joint may be a patient’s best option. 

When a doctor suggests such a procedure, it is completely normal for the patient to have questions about the operation and the recovery time for total ankle replacement. At Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, our experienced surgeons are happy to answer any questions about the preparation, procedure, and recovery period.  

How Long is Recovery Time for Total Ankle Replacement?

The process for recovery time for total ankle replacement comes in a few stages. For approximately six weeks after the procedure, the patient will wear a boot or splint and use assistance when moving about. During the first two of those weeks, patients should limit their movements to allow healing of the incision. After that, the doctor will instruct patients about how to remove the boot to perform simple, physical therapy exercises.
Recovery from any surgery, especially ones involving total joint replacement, can vary from one patient to the next. There are a number of factors that play into an individual’s recovery time, including age, health conditions, and certain variables within the replacement. For a more precise outlook on your own recovery, talk to your doctor or surgeon about what to expect.

How Should A Patient Prepare for Recovery? 

Preparing for recovery time for total ankle replacement is not difficult, but it does require some prior planning. First and foremost, the patient should prepare his or her home environment for easy access during those first few weeks of recovery. Because movement should be limited during this time, patients should try to ensure that their resting space has easy access to the bathroom and kitchen. Additionally, patients should arrange for assistance with normal chores, like transportation or walking pets. 
Driving arrangements should also be made for the patient for the duration of his or her recovery time for total ankle replacement. These arrangements should include someone to bring him or her home from the hospital after the initial surgery and transportation to and from any follow up appointments. Keep in mind that ankle arthroplasty surgery is done under either general or regional anesthesia.

How Can A Patient Help Their Recovery Progress Quickly?

Although patients are likely eager to enjoy pain free use of their ankle, the recovery time for total ankle replacement does require some patience. It is important not to rush this process, so that the joint and surrounding area have adequate time to heal and adjust, providing the most full recovery of painless mobility. However, there are some good practices that patients can follow which help to ensure a smooth and effective recovery. 
First and foremost, it is important to keep swelling down during the first two weeks after surgery. This can be done by keeping the patient’s foot raised above his or her heart whenever resting or sleeping. Pillows are helpful to prop up the foot without placing any pressure on the heel. 
Additionally, it is important that patients use the tools they are given for recovery. These tools include crutches and boots or splints that help support the new, healing ankle. It is important for patients to use these tools until their doctor gives them go ahead to walk without assistance.  
Another set of “tools” patients should use to aid their recovery includes any physical therapy or exercises prescribed by the doctor or therapist. These stretches and exercises help to teach the new joint how to function properly and help to achieve the greatest range of motion. 
Throughout the whole process of recovery, it is important to be patient and maintain contact with your doctor.  
For more information on recovery time for total ankle replacement please contact us today!
And for more general information, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

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