An ankle fusion procedure can help treat a number of different underlying problems in your foot by limiting mobility in the joint. Normally it’s helpful to have some flexibility and mobility in our joints, but when the protective cartilage that helps to facilitate this movement has thinned or become non-existent, these once simple movements now become extremely painful, so restricting movement in the area is the goal.

Pain relief is one of the main reasons that people consider an ankle fusion procedure, but that’s just one of the benefits of the operation. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at why an ankle fusion procedure can be extremely beneficial for the right patient.

Why Choose An Ankle Fusion?

An ankle fusion procedure uses plates, screws or similar hardware to fuse together bones in the ankle, limiting movement that has now become painful. It is most commonly performed to treat advanced or end-stage arthritis in the ankle. In these instances, the protective cartilage in the ankle is severely deteriorated or non-existent, and movement causes the bones in the area to rub against one another. As you might imagine, this bone-on-bone contact is extremely uncomfortable and oftentimes quite painful.

Since you can’t regrow this lost cartilage, treatment typically shifts to limiting movement in the area with the help of a fusion procedure. Not only can this movement limitation help to prevent painful bone to bone contact, but it can also:

  • Improve Foot Stability – Your foot and ankle will actually become more stable if you fuse bones together, which can help improve your balance and decrease your fall risk.
  • Improve Your Gait – Walking will no longer be an uncomfortable and cumbersome process, as ankle fusion can help to normalize your gait or minimize symptoms during the activity.
  • Perform More Daily Activities – If moving your feet or bearing weight through them has become painful, odds are you’ve shied away from or completely stopped participating in a bunch of activities you used to take for granted. An ankle fusion procedure can get you back to climbing stairs, walking around the neighborhood or just standing for an extended period without extreme discomfort.
  • Improved Quality of Life – When you’re more active and in less pain, you’ll likely notice an improvement in your quality of life. You’ll become more independent and reduce your risk of worsening disability if you proactively treat the problem with a fusion procedure.
  • Fast Pain Relief – We mentioned that pain relief is a popular reason to undergo ankle fusion, but it’s also worth noting how quickly people notice relief.  Many people notice immediate pain relief once the motion at the ankle joint is restricted.

As is the case with any surgical procedure, there are also some potential risks associated with ankle fusion. Surgeries carry the risk of bleeding or infection, and there is also the possibility that the joint does not fuse as hoped (non-union). We work with all our patients to ensure they understand the benefits and risks of each procedure, and what they can do to lower their risk of complications. For example, smoking, vitamin deficiency and obesity can all increase your risk of a non-union, so working to control those factors can increase your likelihood of a successful fusion operation.

And of course, you can increase your likelihood of being satisfied with your ankle fusion procedure and improve your quality of life by trusting your operation to Dr. McDonald and his team. For more information about how he can help you overcome a foot or ankle condition, or to get answers about your foot pain, reach out to his clinic today at (860) 244-8889.

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