The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

A New Lease on Mobility: Total Ankle Replacement Yields Positive Results for Arthritis

Posted by on Thursday, March 20th, 2014


Arthritis strikes one in five Americans, affecting a total of 50 million people. This crippling disease varies in its intensity, but it can severely limit what an individual is capable of doing. Suddenly, lifelong passions, hobbies, sports, and everyday activities are severely limited. Yet, one needn’t accept their limitations as a “fact of life.” The Center For Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York City has done thousands of total ankle replacement surgeries to give patients with severe, chronic ankle arthritis new lives.

arthritis facts
1 in 5 Americans suffers from arthritis.
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New Ankles Change Lives

WDBJ 7 News recently told the stories of Virginia residents whose lives were changed for the better by ankle replacement surgery. C.E. “Butch” Davidson — a 70-year-old Salem, Virginia, resident with degenerative arthritis — had a left ankle replacement done in 2001 and a right ankle replacement done in 2004. He liked to dance with his wife and go on daily walks. “I’d get about halfway and my darn ankle would just lock up on me,” Butch remembers. “You talk about pain — I thought I was going to have to get my wife to walk to the house and get the vehicle to come and get me.” Steroid shots had given him some pain relief and mobility, but he really needed the ankle replacement to be able to do the physical activities he wanted to do.

Roanoke local Virginia Balserak enjoyed hiking and yoga until her arthritis got so bad she couldn’t place weight on it. Ten years before her ankle replacement, she had gotten the joint caught between two rocks on a hike. She never had the injury professionally treated. Her surgeon believed she probably suffered an ankle fracture, rather than a sprain as she had presumed, so the joint degenerated over time. After trying chiropractic medicine, acupuncture, massage, braces, and supportive footwear, she finally got the surgery as a last ditch effort to get her life back. Now she is back to swimming, hiking, and teaching yoga. Truly, in these two cases, getting a new ankle was like getting a new life.

What Is a Total Ankle Replacement?

Total ankle replacements are nothing new, having been around since the seventies. However, the earlier surgeries were less reliable and for a while, physicians were reluctant to recommend them to patients. Newer implants that came about at the turn of the new millennium ensured that ankles would last 10 years or more.

During the two to four-hour  procedure, an incision is made on the front of the leg and and a titanium/cobalt-chromium and plastic polymer component is inserted. A special coating ensures that the bone fuses with the implant and cement ensures that the component remains in place. The recovery generally requires six weeks of non-load-bearing.

ankle replacement
A typical ankle replacement component looks like this.
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Considering Ankle Surgery in NYC?

Our ankle surgeons are board-certified by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery, and are either associates or fellows of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. We incorporate the latest technological innovations into our surgeries so there is minimal scarring, faster healing, and better results. Contact us to discuss your options.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.