Ankle Fusion or Stem Cells An Athletes Choice
Ankle fusion may be recommended for ankle arthritis, instability or avascular necrosis (AVN). Stem cells may be a newer alternative to surgery.
Chronic ankle pain may be extremely difficult to manage. Rest or immobility for long periods is difficult, and walking may aggravate the ankle. This is especially difficult for the athlete.
Often degenerative arthritis or ankle avascular necrosis (AVN) is difficult to treat surgically, as ankle replacement is often unsuccessful. This leads often to recommendations for ankle fusion.
Ankle arthritis may involve the tibia and talus joint, which is responsible for foot plantarflexion and dorsiflexion (downward and upward motion of the foot), or the subtalar joint which functions to invert and evert the foot (lateral motion).
Both plantar/dorsiflexion, and inversion/eversion are critical for many sports. Impairment of these motions or persistent pain can affect athletic performance.
Fusion of the ankle will undoubtedly affect these sports, and be career ending to many athletes.
Avascular necrosis (AVN) of the ankle may involve the tibia, talus, or navicular bone.
AVN of the ankle may involve a combination of these bones. AVN occurs when the blood supply to a region of bone is disrupted leading to bone cell death known as necrosis. In athletes trauma is a usually cause. However, athletes may develop avascular necrosis following systemic causes including excessive corticosteroids.
These systemic factors may have nothing to do with their sport, yet the development of AVN in the athlete can be a grave prognosis for continued sports participation.
Stem Cell Therapy for chronic ankle arthritis, pain or AVN may be a viable option to ankle fusion particularly in athletes. The choice to proceed with Stem Cell Therapy may be based upon many factors.
Dennis M. Lox, MD, has treated many patients, including athletes with ankle arthritis and avascular necrosis.