Need An Ankle Fusion? Here’s What To Expect

A subtalar fusion or ankle fusion fuses the bones of the ankle together. Often used to treat arthritis, subtalar fusions boast a minimum success rate of 84%. Arthritis gradually degrades joints causing pain, inflammation, and swelling. Before surgery, doctors emphasize setting aside a few months for a full recovery. Pain subsides within days, patients can expect to be on bed rest for several weeks. A full recovery relies on wound care, physical therapy, and taking the necessary time required to heal.

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Prioritizing wound care

An ankle fusion can be performed using a smaller incision and a tiny camera to ensure precision. With smaller incisions, patients decrease the risk of developing a post-surgery wound infection. Furthermore, proper wound care acts as a foundational piece of a successful subtalar fusion.

Plan your work, work your plan

Before surgery, patients and healthcare providers often work together to develop a comprehensive physical therapy treatment plan. Both exercise and occupational therapy help patients reduce pain and determine the ankle’s range of motion. Since the joint will no longer bend after fusion, physical therapy helps patients learn to walk smoothly. While patients can move the heel from side to side, the motion of the foot changes after surgery. With proper footwear, however, many patients will not have a noticeable limp after completing physical therapy.

Take the time you need

Avoid putting full body weight on the ankle for several months after the procedure. Underestimating healing time and reinjuring the ankle can result in unnecessary pain and discomfort. Patients should wait 6-12 weeks before putting weight on the fused ankle to avoid damaging the impacted joint.

Getting back on your feet

A subtalar fusion should not be the first line of defense. However, many patients with critical pain levels can drastically benefit from an ankle fusion. To achieve the full benefits of a fusion, focus on wound care, and physical therapy. Give the joint up to 3 months of time to heal. Arthritis and related inflammation disorders impact countless Americans. Many patients can find crucial relief with a successful subtalar fusion.

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