Michael J. Cornelison, DPM, FACFAS
10353 Torre Avenue, Suite C
Cupertino, California 95014
Call us for an appointment: (408) 446-5811

A Guide to Ankle Arthroscopy

Patients suffering from ankle pain can benefit a lot from ankle arthroscopy. This minimally invasive therapeutic and diagnostic technique is used to treat and manage disorders of the ankle joint. Ankle arthroscopy helps in treating several intra-articular disorders, which may be caused by inflammatory, degenerative, or neoplastic conditions or triggered by trauma. This procedure can be very successful in offering ankle pain relief to patients with ankle joint disorder, which could be related to extra-articular irregularities that are either systemic (eg, inflammatory arthritis) or regional (e.g. mechanical malalignment in the lower limb).

In most cases, ankle arthroscopy involves making 2-3 small incisions in front of the ankle to address the problems. Due to the small size of the incision, scarring and tissue damage is minimized as are the chances of infection, which are higher in open surgeries. Its possible to perform this procedure as an outpatient and patients can return to normal function/work/sports much earlier than many other surgical procedures.

Apart from treating scar lesions in the joint, sports injuries, bone and cartilage injuries in the joint, ankle arthroscopy can also assist in ligament reconstruction for patients suffering from unstable ankles and those who have fractures affecting the ankle joint.


Patients with the following symptoms of ankle disorders may need diagnostic ankle arthroscopy:
• Inexplicable swelling, pain, instability or stiffness
• Locking and popping

According to foot doctors of Cupertino Podiatry Inc, those showing the following indications may need therapeutic ankle arthroscopy:
Soft tissue injury ~ Articular injury ~ Arthrofibrosis ~ Bony impingement ~ Posttraumatic soft tissue impingement ~ Arthroscopic-assisted fracture fixation ~ Instability~ Septic arthritis ~ Tendinitis ~ Synovitis ~ Osteophytes ~ Arthrodesis ~ Osteochondral defects ~ Intra-articular disorders.

The Procedure

Usually, 2-3 small incisions are made in front of the ankle. Next, a small arthroscope (with a diameter varying between three and five millimeters) is inserted through this incision to let the surgeon see and operate inside the ankle joint. The entire procedure takes about 30 to 45 minutes.

Post-operative Stage

The surgeon will use steri-strips or stitches to close the incision(s) and apply a padded bandage on the patient’s ankle. It is common for some patient's joints to become inflamed following the procedure. Usually, surgeons and foot doctors advise patients to keep their legs elevated and restrict the amount of walking for two weeks following the procedure, after which they can slowly return to their normal style of walking. Some patients may be advised to use crutches for a short duration to avoid putting pressure on the ankle or hurting it inadvertently. Patients may also browse ankle pain relief products at www.footpainreliefproducts.com, though they should always consult their doctor before using any of them.

Post-operative Advice

Patients should follow their surgeons advice to start mobilizing their ankles gently, as soon as they are able to. Sometimes, they may be advised to consult a physiotherapist, who can suggest exercises to strengthen the muscles and prevent stiffness, thus helping in quick recovery.

Foot doctors also emphasize on following the RICE rule during the post-operative stage:

• Rest: The recovery period and how soon one returns to his workplace may vary from person to person. Those with a sedentary job can expect to return to their workplace within seven days of the procedure. However, those with an active job that involves a lot of walking or running may need four weeks or so before they put their feet and ankle to the rigorous regime. The key is to have adequate rest and not push the recovery.

• Ice: Application of an ice pack (or a damp towel followed by a bag of frozen peas) can help in ankle pain relief and reduce the swelling.

• Compression: Patients should wear a tubigrip during the day to provide compression and support to the ankle and decrease post operative swelling. However, at night, the tubigrip should be removed.

• Elevate: To reduce swelling, patients are advised to keep the affected area elevated, ideally above the groin.

For ankle pain relief or treatment of any other foot ailment, you can consult foot doctors of Cupertino Podiatry Inc. To set an appointment, you can call 408-446-5811 or visit www.cupertinopodiatrist.com.

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