JACKSONVILLE, Fla – A surgeon at UF Health is helping patients walk normally again and taking away years of pain. A full ankle replacement is a complicated surgery that's evolved over the years. It's now a good option for patients who are treating pain only temporarily.
Lynnette Parsons had an accident when she was just 14 years old and has lived with a bad ankle ever since. Parsons even interviewed surgeons in Europe for ankle replacement surgery because she didn't think there were good options in the US. She said it wasn't until she met Dr. Jason Piraino at UF Health that she felt confident that this surgery could bring her relief. Parsons can now confidently walk without pain which is something she hasn't been able to consistently do for many years.
"I was sometimes walking with a cane because of the pain and when the weather would change. Stormy weather would bother it a lot," says Parsons.
Her arthritis was so advanced that she had almost run out of options. She considered ankle replacement surgery a last resort but soon learned it really was her best option.
"It's not just a straight up and down motion, it's a circular motion so it can withstand the force being applied to it," says Piraino.
Dr. Piraino says technology has gotten better in the past 10 years. Ankle replacement or arthroplasty used to not allow for this kind of movement.
"Our implant is custom designed so we get a CAT scan or a CT of the patient's ankle. The radiology department it will send that off to a third-party vendor, the implant company uses, and they actually designed the implant for the patient," says Piraino.
The foot bone is then replaced with a smooth metal surface and a high-density plastic. In two weeks the patient is moving the ankle in bed to reduce scar tissue. Parsons, who sells homes, says she was amazed with her recovery.
"My business did not miss a beat, I was showing property. I got out on December 31st so I didn't work on January 1 and January 2, I showed one home and my daughter drove me," says Parsons.
Full recovery takes anywhere from 8-12 weeks and Parsons says it's changed her life.
"There's no pain so there's no pain. It's a bit stiffer than I would've anticipated it to be but it was stiff before the surgery so that hasn't changed. I would do it again absolutely," says Parsons.
When your pain cannot be controlled by bracing or over-the-counter medication, this surgery is a good option. It takes approximately two and a half hours. The replacement can last 10-20 years. The more high-impact activities you do, the faster you go through the lifespan of the joint replacement.