Ankle distraction arthroplasty is an innovative procedure for treating ankle arthritis in select patients. Unlike ankle fusion and ankle replacement, distraction arthroplasty focuses on joint restoration. These other procedures, while appropriate in many cases, sacrifice the ankle joint in an effort to decrease pain from arthritis. Distraction arthroplasty uses mechanical unloading of the diseased joint to reverse the effects of arthritis and significantly lower pain without damaging the ankle joint. Additionally - and importantly - ankle motion is preserved.
This concept of joint restoration has been embraced by many foot and ankle specialists, including both orthopaedic surgeons and podiatrists. Although it is relatively new in the United States, it has been performed successfully in Europe for many years. This surgery is rapidly gaining popularity, but your local orthopedist may not be aware of its benefits or may not know which centers perform this procedure.