When to Consider Ankle Surgery

Rare is the person under age 40 or so who complains about their aching joints. Joints move so smoothly and effortlessly when you’re young! The risk of osteoarthritis increases greatly with age, all because the protective cartilage that surrounds them gets worn out. Thinned cartilage causes joints to become stiff and creaky. Their range of motion is decreased. They hurt.

What causes ankle arthritis

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in your body. When it strikes your ankles, it can be really hard to get around even for the most basic of tasks. Ankle arthritis is caused by

  • Previous injury. A sprained ankle is prone to a second, third, even a fourth sprain, especially if it’s not treated properly the first time around. This chronic ankle instability, from repeated sprains or fractures, is a major cause of ankle arthritis.
  • Obesity. Years of being overweight puts a great strain on ankle joints.
  • Age. Even if you treat your ankles perfectly and have never injured them, just getting older means that there’s more wear and tear on your joints.
  • Family history. Genetics play a role in where and when arthritis descends.

When the pain is too much

There may come a time when the pain and suffering from ankle arthritis becomes too much, and your quality of life is unacceptably diminished because you just can’t get around. Conservative treatments like pain medications, shoe inserts, braces, and physical therapy may have worked for a time, but the pain can become too much to bear. That’s when you should make an appointment with Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Centreville, VA, to talk about surgical intervention.

Surgical options

Ankle surgery can be minimally invasive, requiring only a small incision and the extraction of damaged tissue (arthroscopy). But if your arthritis is advanced, chances are you may need more intervention, perhaps even a total ankle replacement. Dr. Wilhelm is board-certified in foot and ankle surgery, with a special interest in ankle reconstructive surgery. If you live in northern Virginia or the greater D.C. area, call Dr. Wilhelm at (703) 996-3000 for an appointment to review your alternatives. You can also click here to make an appointment online.

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