Minor injuries start to wear down ankle joint over time, and when the ankle is moved out of alignment briefly during a sprain, it causes friction between the soft ends of the bone.

The soft ends can wear down causing bone on bone erosion. Repeated sprains hasten the process.

When the bones of the ankle joint are broken, that type of trauma to the joint can occur in a much faster period of time.

More patients are seeking relief for painful ankles and this trend plays out in the examining rooms of many foot and ankle surgeons every day, but seems to worsen in winter months.

Colder weather and rain can sometimes make patients able to “predict” weather changes due to the pain it elicits. Changes in the barometric pressure cause pressure changes inside painful joints.

Some ankle pain patients are in agony and describe a constant pain, stiffness and difficulty bearing weight. Their lack of mobility can affect even things like putting on shoes.

When patients come into the office for a long-term solution for chronic ankle pain, the only option was fusion of the bones in the ankle.

Now there are total ankle replacements to offer. More patients are inquiring about total ankle replacement surgery now more than ever, because the fusion surgery previously used as a gold standard did not sound appealing.

Fusions of the ankle lock the ankle into a fixed position. Ankle replacement surgeries maintain and even add more motion to an existing limited ankle range of motion. Many patients are more apt to keep the motion of the ankle, rather than losing it.

Physicians emphasize that ankle fusion surgery is a last-resort treatment for patients with painful arthritic ankles. With the total ankle replacement surgery, fusion can come later if preferred.

For many patients, braces, injections, ankle arthroscopy and ankle replacement surgery can provide relief before any surgery is needed.

When the pain of an ankle interferes with daily activities, it’s time to discuss surgical options, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

Ashley Ledger, doctor of podiatry, is board certified in foot and ankle surgery and is a member of the Medical Staff at Seton Medical Center Harker Heights.

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