Total ankle replacement provided “trophy-worthy” non-fusion treatment for painful arthritis.
Despite years of worsening ankle problems, retired teacher Bob Thayer continued to remain as active as possible with woodworking, golf and Silver Sneakers classes. But every step was a challenge. Both ankles rolled to the outside quite significantly (known as supination) and he had painful ankle arthritis.
Ankle arthritis and treatment
The most common cause of ankle arthritis is a prior traumatic injury. Other causes include degenerative wear and tear on the joint and rheumatoid arthritis. The traditional method of treatment for moderate to severe ankle arthritis is to fuse the ankle joint. Fusion relieves the pain but eliminates the ankle’s range of motion. It leaves the patient with a stiff ankle and limited movement and function. That’s why podiatrist Jonathan Sharpe, DPM, offers another option: total ankle replacement.
“Total ankle replacement is an excellent way to address painful ankle arthritis while preserving a more natural range of motion and gait pattern,” says Dr. Sharpe.
“I didn’t want to have ankle fusion because I had friends who had it and I saw their limitations,” Bob says. “Then I read the October 2019 Best of Health e-newsletter article about a total ankle replacement done by Dr. Sharpe and I knew that was the answer for me.”
New ankles, restored activity
Neither Bob nor Dr. Sharpe could determine a specific cause for his arthritis and ankle deformity, but guessed high school football injuries may have played a role. In January 2020, Bob had a CT scan of his right ankle. The imaging was used to engineer an ankle prosthesis with an accurate and precise alignment. In February, Dr. Sharpe performed Bob’s right ankle replacement surgery at UH TriPoint Medical Center in Concord. During the surgery, Dr. Sharpe replaced the arthritic-damaged ankle bones with the new prosthesis. He also made adjustments to Bob’s ligaments and Achilles tendon to address the deformity. A year later, in March 2021, Dr. Sharpe performed Bob’s left ankle replacement surgery, placing its new ankle implant and adjusting that Achilles tendon. After the first surgery, Bob had rehabilitation at a nursing home, but after the second surgery, he had rehab at home.
“Right from day one after both surgeries, I had no pain. The damaged joint was gone and the new implant was in there, so it made a big difference right away,” says Bob. “I had to do a lot of rehab, but there were no infections or complications. The ankle replacements give me full rotation and both ankles are doing really well. I’ll never be 100 percent, but I’m at 90 percent and very satisfied with the results.”
More active than before the surgeries, Bob, now 76, walks pain free and is ready to return to an even better golf game. Back in his woodshop, he designed a trophy recognizing the value of what Dr. Sharpe did for him.
“Other people get trophies and accolades and I wanted Dr. Sharpe to know how much I appreciated him and his expertise,” Bob says.
Meet the provider
Jonathan Sharpe, DPM
Specialty: podiatric surgery
Office: Concord, 216-658-0111