As our population ages, and with the shift towards preventive medicine, more and more patients are being prescribed exercise programs or are living healthier lives by exercising. Walking, jogging, running, biking, aerobics, skating, skiing, etc. are more popular activities than ever. Therefore, ankle pain is a relatively common problem in today's society. Ankle sprains and tears left untreated may progress to degenerative ankle joint disease, leaving the athlete with a chronic, painful ankle.
Symptoms may include:
- Chronic swelling around the ankle
- Clicking inside the joint
- A feeling of giving way at the ankle, or weak ankles
- Vague ankle pain with activities
- A history of multiple ankle sprains in the past
- Locking of the ankle
Initial treatment of a chronically painful ankle consists of anti-inflammatories, sometimes cortisone injections, and or physical therapy. Many times an orthotic device worn in the shoe to alleviate some of the symptoms. When these early conservative treatments fail, the next step is often a minimally invasive procedure called Ankle Arthroscopy.
Ankle Arthroscopy is as outpatient surgical technique whereby a tiny camera is introduced into the ankle joint through a 1 cm incision. A second 1 cm incision is often used as well to clean, irrigate or remove debris, which may be encountered. The surgeon visualized the anatomy of the ankle joint on a real time video screen. This technique is both diagnostic and therapeutic in that ankle images shown on camera will show diseased vs. normal joint, and problem areas can be addressed through the 2nd incision.
The procedure is performed at a hospital or outpatient surgical center. A light compression bandage is worn postoperatively, and the patient is usually allowed to bear weight. Physical therapy is often prescribed postoperatively to assist in the healing process.
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