Ankle Joint Replacement And Rehabilitation

If you’ve recently been told that you need an ankle joint replacement surgery, you might be wondering what to expect during the rehabilitation period. Or indeed, just how long that recovery period is.

The good news is that ankle joint replacement is a relatively common procedure and it’s also a very successful one. In fact, with the proper rehabilitative treatment, you’ll be back on your feet sooner than you may expect.

That said, rehab and therapies to avoid complications are very important. Missing or skipping physical therapy sessions may result in less than desirable results. At Fairview in Queens NY, we offer a full range of outpatient rehabilitative therapies, including those for ankle replacement patients.

Chiropodist holding the ankle of a patient

Avoid complications!

An ankle replacement surgery is a major operation. While 90 percent of people report satisfaction after their surgery, it should be noted that ankle replacements are not quite as successful as joint or hip replacement surgeries.

The major complications associated with this procedure are deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and infection.

How long is the recovery after an ankle joint replacement?

You can think of the recovery period as comprised of several different stages. Firstly, you will probably be in the hospital for 2 days after the surgery. If your foot swells up, you will need to rest for a few days to a week to let the swelling go down.

When the ankle and foot are back to their normal size, you will be put in a plaster cast. This is to immobilize the joint and aid healing. A physical therapist will teach you to walk in crutches. Most people are home within 3 days after the surgery.

After this, you’ll wear your plaster cast or a sturdy brace for around 6 weeks. It’s important that you stay off the affected ankle as much as possible for the first 2 weeks post-surgery. So, walk only when you have to.

At your 6 week checkup, x-rays will be ordered and your progress noted. At this point, it’s a good idea to look into physical therapy sessions to fully rehabilitate the replaced ankle joint.

When to exercise after a joint replacement

After your ankle joint replacement surgery, allow 6 weeks of recovery time. After 6 weeks, you will have a check-up and your orthopedist will let you know if you are ready to start gentle physical therapy and exercise again.

It’s important that you do not undertake an exercise regime without having it approved by your doctor.

Pain management

Many people undergo an ankle replacement because of arthritis and as an alternative to ankle fusion surgery. Any arthritic pain will be relieved after the surgery so pain management is focused on the immediate weeks post-operation.

Your doctor will prescribe you medications to manage both the pain and swelling as the incision heals and the new joint becomes part of your body. Follow the schedule carefully and talk to your doctor if you’re in unusual amounts of pain.

Do you need help recovering from an ankle joint replacement or you are struggling with its complications? If so, get in touch with Fairview Rehab and Nursing Home to find out how our dedicated team of therapists can get you moving again.