Duke Medicine HealthLine
Published: May 15, 2008
Updated: Apr. 16, 2010
Orthopaedic surgeon James DeOrio, MD, untangles a few misconceptions about ankle replacement surgery:
I’m going to need lots of rehab and recovery time after the surgery.
“Unlike hip and knee surgeries, there is no need for significant rehabilitation after ankle replacement surgery. Ankle patients are put in a cast while they’re still asleep, and they go home from the hospital the next day. Then three weeks later they switch to a movable boot, and in six weeks most people are back in their shoes. Some patients have actually returned to light golfing within eight weeks of the surgery.”
After ankle replacement, I’ll be back on the treadmill for two hours a day.
“Well, maybe 20 minutes on the treadmill, three times a week. You’re not going to be back to normal after surgery. But you’ll have a lot less pain, you’ll have better range of motion, and you’ll be able to walk without a limp. You can return to activities of daily living and exercises -- but you will need to choose exercises that go easy on your ankles.”
I’ll have to have the whole thing redone in eight to 10 years.
“That’s not necessarily true. If your ankle replacement does become uncomfortable but you see your doctor as soon as you start feeling pain, it’s possible that he can simply clean up the ankle, replace a small piece of plastic, and you’ll be back in business.”