Ankle Joint Replacement vs Fusion: Your Gait will be Better but Not Normal
Which is better, an ankle joint replacement vs fusion? The medical term “Gait” means the mechanics of how you walk. Many patients considering an ankle fusion vs. an ankle joint replacement want to walk normally again without a limp. Will these big surgeries accomplish that? A recent study looked at the gait of normal patients without any ankle problems and compared that to those who had received an ankle fusion or an ankle replacement surgery. The findings? Ankle replacement patients walked better than ankle fusion patients, which makes sense since an ankle fusion by definition stops certain important ankle joints from moving. Both ankle replacement and ankle fusion patients had improvements in gait, but neither walked like normal control patients. The upshot? We have serious concerns about ankle fusion as a routine treatment for ankle arthritis. The ankle fusion surgery, like all fusions, dramatically reduces ankle range of motion by stopping motion at three key ankle joints. While ankle replacement has it’s issues (see this blog post of a woman who developed chronic pain due to ankle joint replacement), at least it attempts to preserve some motion. So which is better…Ankle Joint Replacement vs Fusion? As this study shows, neither technology will allow enough motion to allow normal walking.