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Zimmer, Inc.

About Ankle Pain and Treatment


Why do I have Ankle Pain?

In a healthy ankle, a layer of cartilage “cushions” the joint and protects the surface of the bones as the ankle moves. When the cartilage is damaged or worn away, the bones may rub together, causing ankle pain.

The most common cause of cartilage deterioration is wear and tear, called osteoarthritis. This condition may be triggered by other traumatic events, resulting in post-traumatic arthritis of the ankle.

Since no medication or treatment can make the damaged cartilage grow back, ankle replacement surgery is often the only way for ankle pain relief while maintaining function of the joint.

What about an Ankle Replacement for me?

Only your orthopedic surgeon and you can answer this question. But when severe ankle pain interferes with your life, the time may be right. Here are some signs to consider:

  • Medication and using a cane are not delivering enough relief
  • Ankle pain keeps you awake at night
  • You have given up activities you used to enjoy
  • You are no longer as mobile as you’d like

The ankle replacement procedure is usually covered by most major insurance carriers, and Medicare and Medicaid.

What is Ankle Replacement Surgery like?

In ankle surgery, the damaged portions of the lower end of your shin bone (tibia) and the top of your foot bone (talus) are removed. The metal parts of the Zimmer® Trabecular Metal Total Ankle implant are attached by placing them tightly against the bones and utilizing special cement to fix portions of the components to the bone. To finish, the fibula will be repositioned with a metal plate and the incision is closed.

When surgery is complete, your doctor will give you specific instructions on wound care, pain control and when you can resume other activities. Generally, you will be in a well-padded splint for the first 2-3 weeks. You can use a wheel chair or crutches during this time. After that you will transition to a boot, but you will still need to use crutches or a roll-about until your doctor gives you permission to put full weight on your ankle.

As with any surgery, there are risks for total ankle replacement surgery, including bleeding, blood clot and infection. Some specific risks for ankle replacement surgery include ankle weakness, stiffness, or instability; loosening of the artificial joint over time; skin not healing after surgery; nerve damage; blood vessel damage; bone break during surgery; dislocation of the artificial joint; allergic reaction to the artificial joint; poor range of motion; pain and inflammation; fibula not healing; and tendon or ligament damage.

What does Zimmer offer for ankle replacement?

Zimmer provides a system to replace the articulating surfaces of the ankle that have been affected by disease or injury. With the Zimmer Trabecular Metal Total Ankle replacement system, your surgeon has an option for restoring natural movement to the ankle joint.

The components are made of special metal and polyethylene that have been used in artificial hips and knees for many years.1 Specifically, the tibia component is made of a Tivanium® alloy and the talus component is made of cobalt chrome. The plastic bearing is made of a unique wear resistant material (polyethylene) which has been used in other joints successfully for many years.2

For More Information

To learn more about Zimmer joint replacements, obtain helpful information for patients and caregivers, or for assistance in finding a surgeon familiar with our products and surgical techniques, call toll free: 800-447-5633

Ankle Pain Education


  1. Data on file at Zimmer.
  2. Gsell R, Yao JQ, Laurent MP, Crowninshield RD: Improved oxidation resistance of highly crosslinked UHMWPE for total knee arthroplasty. Society for Biomaterials 27th Annual Meeting Transactions, 84, 2001.