Ankle Arthritis Procedures Relieve Pain

3/22/2007

Key Outcomes are Quality of Life Improvements

For immediate release    

Media contact: Melissa Matusek
(773) 693-9300, ext. 1306
melissa.matusek@acfas.org

News from the Annual Scientific Conference of the
American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons

LAS VEGAS, March 22, 2006 – When arthritis afflicts the ankle, it can cause activity-limiting pain and debilitation.  Today experts speaking at the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) annual scientific conference brought some good news regarding outcomes of surgical procedures to relieve pain and correct arthritic joint damage. 

According to panelist D. Martin Chaney, DPM, FACFAS, a San Antonio-based foot and ankle surgeon, anyone with a history of ankle sprains and fractures can develop arthritis in the joint later in life.  “Unlike hips or knees where arthritis comes from normal wear and tear, arthritic ankles usually are precipitated by a previous injury that has caused long-term ligament and cartilage damage,” said Chaney. 

According to the ACFAS consumer website, FootPhysicians.com, pain in an arthritic joint occurs as the cartilage deteriorates and gets thinner.  The ankle bones lose their protective covering and eventually may rub together, causing pain and inflammation.

Chaney said treatment for ankle arthritis varies depending on severity.  “With the array of treatment options we have today, there is no reason to allow an arthritic ankle to prevent you from enjoying an active and healthy lifestyle.  We know that surgery to relieve ankle arthritis can bring significant quality of life improvement,” he said.

Patients with mild arthritis, according to Chaney, can be treated non-surgically with cortisone shots to relieve inflammation and with ankle braces to support joint movement.  For more advanced cases, arthroscopic surgery could be the best option.  The foot and ankle surgeon would use this minimally invasive technique to remove bone spurs and cartilage fragments.  Arthroscopy can remove cartilage fragments, bone spurs and other debris from the ankle joint.  In the majority of cases, it relieves pain. 

When arthritis destroys all or most of the cartilage on the ankle joint, surgical options include a fusion procedure that locks the bones together or a total joint replacement.  Chaney said fusion surgery helps those with severe arthritis walk pain-free even though the ankle is rendered inflexible.  “When there is no cartilage left and the pain is almost unbearable, the fusion procedure brings welcome relief,” he said.

For some patients, a total ankle joint replacement might be preferred, but Chaney cautioned long-term results are not yet available for this relatively new procedure.  “While an ankle replacement can restore
movement, it might not be suited for younger or active patients who could wear out the artificial joint.  Replacing the replacement is not advisable,” he said. 

Chaney said anyone with a previous history of ankle trauma should see a foot and ankle surgeon if persistent pain develops.  “Even through arthritis is a progressive disorder, early intervention can significantly prolong joint function and enable the patient be stay active and pain-free.”

For more information about treatments for foot and ankle arthritis, visit www.FootPhysicians.com.

 

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