We’re on our ankles all the time. Sometimes that makes our joints achy, particularly our feet and ankles. Some basics about on foot and ankle pain from Dr. Adam Ferguson from the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute at MidState Medical Center.
Q: Why does someone have ankle pain?
A: When we talk about the ankle, we’re talking about the joint between the tibia, which is the shin bone and the talus, which is the top bone in the ankle. And when you get pain in this joint, it can come from a lot of things. But a very common cause is arthritis. And what that means is the cartilage between these two bones, or the smooth surface, has worn out. That can happen for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s genetic. Sometimes it’s activity-related. But most commonly in the ankle, it’s because of trauma. And trauma can be something small, like you rolled your ankle a bunch of times as a kid. Or it can be something larger like you had a bad injury, such as a break or something that needed surgery.
Q: What exactly is ankle replacement?
A: Ankle replacement is the removal of the bottom part of the tibia, the shin bone, and the top part of the talus due to a lack of cartilage. This is often do to a lifetime of wear and tear. These are replaced with a combination of metal and plastic components; medical-grade steel and polymer components that hold up very well for a long period of time. These serve to replace the damaged structures with essentially a new ankle.
Q: Who would be a candidate for an ankle replacement?
A: The best candidates for this are younger, active people that still have some ankle range of motion but are having trouble doing things they enjoy, such as walking the dog or playing with the grandkids. Many candidates are still in their 60s and 70s.