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01 Osteoarthritis of the ankle joint

The ankle joint can be destroyed for example after an accident or due to a disease. We call the wear and tear of the joint up to the loss of cartilage osteoarthritis. The good news is that there are several treatment options.

Just like other joints in the body, the upper ankle joint can also be destroyed. The wear of the joint up to the loss of cartilage is called arthrosis. Treatment depends on your symptoms.


There are few conservative treatment options that temporarily reduce pain. If conservative options are unsuccessful and symptoms increase, surgery is a reasonable treatment.

There are basically three surgical treatment options:


1. Axis correction/ Osteotomies

This operation is possible if the joint is worn on one side and the other side of the joint is largely preserved. A wedge is taken out of the lower leg bone close to the ankle joint, sometimes the heel is also shifted. The load axis is shifted to the healthy part of the joint (supramalleolar osteotomy, calcaneus osteotomy) with the aim of preserving the patient's own ankle joint and its mobility for as long as possible.


The hospital stay is about 4 days, after the operation a plaster cast treatment is applied for 6-8 weeks. After that, the ability to walk is rebuilt in a removable boot. A significant reduction in pain, but occasionally not complete freedom from pain can be expected.


X-ray before and after axis correction:



2. Fusion of the ankle joint (arthrodesis)


The joint surfaces are refreshed and screwed together so that they heal to form a bone. The result is a stiff but usually pain-free ankle joint. The gait pattern is largely preserved, and a limp is rarely seen. Many sports are possible even with a stiffened ankle.

The hospital stay is about 4 days, after the operation a plaster cast is applied for 6 to 8 weeks. After that, the ability to walk is rebuilt in a removable boot.


X-ray image after fusion of the ankle joint from the front and side:


3. Total ankle replacement/ Prothesis


We have been regularly and successfully operating total ankle replacements since 1996. With an ankle joint prosthesis, the previously existing mobility of the ankle joint is preserved. However, the implantation of an ankle joint prosthesis is not an option for every person with a worn ankle joint. If certain conditions are met, the prosthesis is a promising alternative to ankle fusion.

The hospital stay is about 4 days. Follow-up treatment is in a plaster cast for 3 weeks, after which the ability to walk is gradually rebuilt in a removable boot.


X-ray image after implantation of a total ankle replacement:


Read the article on the ankle prosthesis.

OSG Prothese
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Download PDF • 2.52MB

TV program by Santémedia about osteoarthritis of the upper ankle, with Dr. med. Myrielle Hitz in March 2024.14 minutes.






Schedule an appointment with us so we can find the best treatment option for you.



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