Ankle Replacements Becoming More Common as Technology Improves

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  You've probably heard of knee and hip replacements, but there's another joint that can give you just as many problems. Total ankle replacements are becoming more common as people deal with foot pain and technology improves.

Walking is no longer a problem for Sheila Meginnis. She said, "I slipped in the back of my house and jammed the foot and broke the tibia and the fibia at the ankle, so it was a broken leg at the ankle."

That was 1993. Years later, she started having pain every time she walked. “It was bone on bone, just bone on bone. You dreaded it," she said.

She tried Cortisone shots and lived in pain until six years ago, when she had a total ankle replacement.

“We're able to not only replace your knee and your hip, if you have degenerative jointitis there, if you have ankle arthritis or disease in your ankle, we can replace the ankle as well," said Dr. Murdoch, a foot and ankle surgeon at Broadlawns Medical Center.

Staff there do three to four total ankle replacements every month. "If you're really active when you're younger and do a lot of sporting activities and stuff, the cartilage just doesn't last forever. What happens is that wears out or is damaged to an injury or something like that."

Dr. Murdoch said ankle replacements have become more common in recent years. "Just because the ankle joint is not as common to have problems with as the knee or hip, but still enough, and a lot of people get ankle injuries," he said.

According to Dr. Murdoch, technology has improved for ankle joints, so the replacements are lasting longer and helping people like Meginnis live pain-free. She said, "I walk every day with my dog."

Dr. Murdoch said anyone with significant ankle pain and has already tried injections may want to talk to their doctor about total ankle replacement.