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Ankle Distraction Arthroplasty

Ankle Distraction Arthroplasty

Arthritis can present aggressive symptoms in patients of all ages, and it can take some of the most competitive athletes out of the game. Fortunately, even the ones experiencing debilitating pain from arthritic inflammation can find adequate relief without complete joint replacement or invasive fusion treatment.

Why Patients Need Ankle Distraction

The first indication of ankle arthritis prompts conservative treatments including, bracing or anti-inflammatory medication. However, as arthritis progresses in a patient’s ankle, the lining between the joint breaks down, which gradually decreases mobility and introduces bone-on-bone contact. When patients show little or no response to conservative treatment options, ankle specialists may turn to surgical procedures to prevent further damage.

However, there are newer, minimally invasive options that can preserve and even restore joint health in younger candidates, like ankle distraction. Ankle distraction with arthroplasty uses a frame to separate the joint to relieve the adjacent bones and promote the introduction of healthy cells. As the joint remains mechanically separated over time, new cartilage forms to gently and securely line the joint structure, improve mobility, and increase comfort.

The Ankle Distraction Procedure

During the procedure, a surgeon will arthroscopically enter the joint to prepare the site for intervention. Then, the surgeon will secure a frame to the ankle that pulls the joint apart and alleviates the existing pressure. To affix the frame to the patient’s ankle, a surgeon must wire and secure a series of rings so he can externally lock the joint without disrupting patient mobility.

While the patient is still sedated, the surgeon may correct any underlying osteophyte growth or attempt cartilage stimulation techniques to support tissue recovery. The surgeon might source bone marrow or other tissue from separate parts of the body to harvest concentrates that can form into healthy cartilage.

Distraction Arthroplasty Rehabilitation

Because the distraction frame is designed with hinges, each patient can freely move the ankle joint to practice walking roughly two to three days after they’ve recovered from the procedure. Once discharged, patients are responsible for following their clinical instructions regarding aftercare cleaning and frame maintenance to prevent infection.

Patients are also given daily exercises and physical therapy guidance to improve cartilage stimulation, obstruct atrophy, and promote bone health. Once the ankle tissue has had adequate time to regenerate and comfortably adjust between the joint, the frame may be removed for the patient to fully return to their normal, active lifestyle.

Alleviate Arthritis in St. Augustine

If you’re tired of letting arthritis distract your days from what truly matters, schedule an appointment with the orthopedic specialists at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine. Our clinical staff offers a range of therapies and surgeries to remedy even the most severe arthritic symptoms. To schedule an appointment, fill out our request form online or call us today at 904-825-0540.


Dr Hort - Foot surgeon St Augustine

Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and a member of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. Dr. Hort specializes in reconstructive procedures of the foot and ankle.