Avera Medical Minute: Ankle replacement surgery that keeps mobility

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - Roger Rohwedder of Aberdeen is walking, driving and moving his ankle with ease after ankle replacement surgery. He'd been nursing his injured ankle since 1997.

ankle replacement surgery

"They put my ankle in a cast and said I would have been better if I had broken it than sprain it so bad, and it's just continually getting worse," said Rohwedder.

Cortisone shots relieved the pain through the years, but when those were no longer bringing relief, it was time to make a choice. "So it was either fuse it or replace it, or live with it. I went with the replace it," said Rohwedder.

Avera Foot and Ankle Surgeon Dr. Garrett Wobst treats athletic injuries, sprains, and bruises. He also is passionate about helping patients like Roger who have been struggling with pain for years. "Things like overuse injuries, deformities, arthritis that comes on with either aging or with trauma," said Dr. Wobst. "I see a lot of nerve issues."

Roger says his injury from 20 years ago, along with rolling his ankle a few other times since then, had resulted in painful arthritis.

"Conservatively for ankle arthritis, we'll try bracing and some injections. Roger went through two or three injections that were initially successful, and then after I believe the third one he only had a few weeks of relief, and that's when we typically know we want to move to surgery," said Dr. Wobst.

After surgery and a two day stay in the hospital, Roger says he's never looked back. "I've got less pain now than I've had in probably four or five years, and it's only been three months," said Rohwedder.

If you've been putting off ankle surgery because you thought your only option was losing mobility with a complete fusion, that may not be the case.

"People usually have significant limitations of mobility and functionality after an ankle fusion," said Dr. Wobst. "Now, new technology allows us to replace the ankle which allows the ankle to still move, and typically increase functionality with time."

Many patients can plan for fun activities they haven't been able to do for years. "Definitely drive, but walk, exercise, maybe play golf, all without restrictions of the ankle fusion," said Dr. Wobst.

Roger plans to take his new ankle to some new places. "Going to Arizona and doing more walking where it's nice and warm," said Rohwedder.