Frequently Asked Questions

Is it really true having a foot amputated is better than fusing the ankle joint for severe arthritis?

In some very specific cases, yes. A well-fitting prosthesis can give patients a more functional foot with less pain. A fused angle is rigid, making walking and climbing stairs very difficult. Walking on uneven ground can be impossible.

Amputation is a disappointing option for most people. That's why researchers are working hard to find an ankle joint replacement that works. The first implants haven't turned out as good as hip or knee replacements. A second group of ankle implants with a different design are being studied.

Early results show many patients can convert from an ankle fusion to ankle replacement. They have the best chance for a good result if the ankle bones and ligaments around the joint are all intact. Pain of unknown cause or location is a sign that the implant may not work. More study is needed before joint implant is a good option for everyone.

Justin Greisberg, MD, et al. Takedown of Ankle Fusion and Conversion to Total Ankle Replacement. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. July 2004. Vol. 424. Pp. 80-88.

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