Surgery may be not be necessary for many ankle problems; therapy and medications may be enough to resolve the issue. But when ankles are badly broken, deformed, unstable or cause constant pain, surgery may be the only answer.
Surgery for an ankle fracture is done if the bones in the ankle are unstable and need more support to heal. Milder fractures, when the ankle is stable and the broken bone isn’t out of place, may not need to be surgically repaired.
Different types of ankle surgery treat different injuries or medical conditions affecting your ankle.
Ankle problems that may need surgery include:
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Surgeries can range from minimally invasive arthroscopy to ankle replacement surgery. You will need local (below the waist) anesthesia or general anesthesia, so you sleep through the procedure.
Recovery times vary depending on the surgery. However, you should expect time on crutches followed by a period wearing a cast or walking boot.
For many people, ankle surgery lets you use the ankle again. It also relieves pain caused by conditions like arthritis.
Ankle surgery may cause complications, including:
Immediately after your procedure, your ankle is immobilized (kept from moving) for several weeks. A cast or medical boot can allow your ankle to begin healing. It also helps protect it from further damage or injury.
After surgery, most people return to their normal activities within six to eight weeks.
If you have ongoing ankle pain, contact your provider for an exam. After surgery, if you notice any symptoms of infection or other complications, contact your surgeon’s office as soon as possible.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/11/2020.
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