Since somebody has yet to discover the fabled fountain of youth, we can expect to have to deal with the ordeal of aging. For many of us, it’s the joints that can be the first to go. I’m sure that you are familiar with knee replacement surgery, and I bet you know at least a little something about hip replacement surgery. But what about ankle replacement surgery?
Because the ankle joint is so much more complex than the knee joint or the hip joint, in terms of biomechanics, up to this point, ankle replacement surgery has been more rare. Historically, three times out of four, patients undergo ankle fusions in order to address ankle issues; however, this can cause the other joints in the body to have to take on more stress. Or, another common alternative have been ankle braces, but they still leave something to be desired.
While prosthesis technology for knees and hips has made great advances over the years, developments in ankle prostheses have been slow. It is more common for people to get new knees or hips at a younger age due to the replacements being able to last longer, while ankle replacement parts only lasted 5 – 6 years.
Fortunately and finally, the latest developments on the market can now last 10 – 15 years, opening up the possibility for more people to go through the procedure earlier, when they are more likely to benefit from a new ankle. Recent studies are showing that, with these new replacements, patients are able to restore normal motion and, while they still probably shouldn’t go bungee jumping or run a marathon, they can walk, hike, and jog for short distances.
Nevertheless, the indications for ankle replacements are still more narrow than for knee or hip replacements. Patients with arthritis are excellent candidates, as long as they do not have diabetes or other certain diseases. Still, progress is being made. Technology and medical research continue to catch up and make ankle replacements a reality for more and more people who need them, which is a truly exciting step in the right direction.
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