Ankle Replacement


Sarah Lewis, PharmD

What is ankle replacement?

Ankle replacement removes a damaged ankle joint and replaces it with an artificial joint called a prosthesis. Your surgeon may recommend this surgery if your ankle is severely damaged by arthritis, injury or infection. Ankle replacement is also called ankle arthroplasty or ankle joint replacement. It can restore pain-free range of motion and ankle function.

Your ankle contains three bones – the lower end of the shinbone (tibia), the lower end of the smaller lower leg bone (fibula), and the anklebone (talus). The talus sits on top of your heel bone (calcaneus). The ankle is a complex joint that also contains ligaments, tendons and cartilage. It hinges to allow foot movement, helps support your body weight, and supports movements in your toes and calves. Your ankle lets you walk, run, jump, and raise your toes.

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Ankle replacement is major surgery that has risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all of your treatment choices before having ankle replacement. 

Why is ankle replacement performed? 

Your doctor may recommend ankle replacement to treat serious ankle damage when symptoms are severe or restrictive. This includes severe pain, deformity or disability, including difficulty walking. 

Ankle replacement is not a common surgery and is not the first choice to treat ankle problems. Your doctor will only consider ankle replacement if less invasive treatments do not improve your pain and ankle function. Ask your doctor about all of y