(06/27/13) - A new arthritis treatment could make life a lot easier for some
people. It is a surgery, specifically for ankle arthritis, and it offers a
longer lasting option, over fusion or replacement, for some patients.
"I've been riding for almost 40 years now," says Harley salesman, David Reid.
He's put a lot of miles on his wheels, but ankle arthritis took the fun out of riding bikes, "it was not only painful, but it would also lock up."
An ankle fusion would limit his flexibility, "once this is fused, this motion is gone 100 percent."
University of Minnesota Physicians' Dr. Fernando Pena says like the tires on a car, an ankle replacement could wear out quickly in an active person,
"you will destroy it in very, very few years."
But a new procedure Pena pioneered might last a lot longer. The defective surface of David's lower ankle joint was cut out, "we are just removing the dome of this bone."
Pena then transplanted bone and cartilage from a cadaver, "make a similar cut on the piece of the bone that we got from the cadaver and just put it in and fix it with screws."
Within six weeks, Pena says, the transplant melded into David's ankle, "we have healthy bone with healthy cartilage all the way across the joint."
"It feels like a new ankle. I'm now taking the stairs again. It's made just a huge difference in my life," David says.
Recovery time for the procedure is about three months. It is designed for younger, active patients from their teens to their 40s who only have arthritis on the bottom half of their ankle joint. That type of arthritis is usually the result of a break, severe sprain, or ligament damage and can develop years after the injury.
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